Swimming Grand Canyon

and Other Poems

Book Cover: Swimming Grand Canyon

What is it like, to swim Grand Canyon? "Mostly it's an encounter with an immensely powerful being," says author Rebecca Lawton. "Many of the rapids I didn't choose to fall into but did anyway—Lava Falls, Crystal Rapids, Sockdolager—were gargantuan, relentlessly strong, and undesirable to swimmers. Still they were, in their way, part of the Canyon's ability to capture hearts and lives with terrific force, beauty, and light."

"Truth flows through these poems like a cold deep river, and human love for hard things settles on that river like late sun, casting a steely sheen over all of it. Read Swimming Grand Canyon to be there—on the restless river, and deep in the knowing heart." –Kim Stafford, author of Singer Come from Afar

"Rebecca Lawton’s poems jump off the page. She is achingly alive and heartbreakingly present in Swimming Grand Canyon, “living mortgage free” in her life as a river guide. We travel with her, meeting the characters with whom she shares the risks of that life. I love the immediacy of her narratives, her lively verbs, and her open heart." Elizabeth C. Herron, author of Insistent Grace 

"Rebecca Lawton’s Swimming Grand Canyon has the inviting rhythm of a river trip, quickly going from names on a map to the “first rapids” to “there is no turning back.” These poems have something of that cobble-essence, in spite of the losses she describes, finding “we are far richer than we thought we’d be.” What Lawton places in our hands is a rare gift, smoothed and polished." –Arthur Dawson, author of Where the World Begins: Sonoma Mountain Stories and Images


from the title poem, "Swimming Grand Canyon"

Georgie always said

if she could find a man

who gave her the same thrill

as the river, she’d marry him


As she spoke she never looked

straight at me

Her stare hurled into the distance

Maybe she saw clearly what was ahead

and didn’t care


  1. Got your card. Thanks for thinking of me. Yes I have swum many bits of the Canyon, intentionally and not. Here is my e-mail, and if you ever get near to me again, I hope you will think to contact me. Sorry I missed you in Ashland and at Playa.

    • Hi Kent, was nice to get your recent email! Definitely hope to see you, not swimming rapids but perhaps near them at a gathering of old boatmen and women (who’ve gotten a little dinghy, as the sign said in Rob Elliott’s office). Take care and stay safe.

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