Utah Poet Offers Instruction And Advice For Beginners In Sonnet.

The following loosely-rhymed sonnet is by Utah skier and writer Emma Lou Thayne (1924-2014). It appeared in her 1971 book Spaces in the Sage and was once printed on a ski poster sent nationwide to advertise Utah’s “Greatest Snow on Earth.”

Emma Lou Thayne.

Thayne earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Utah after having already established herself as a published writer. For a time she coached the UU women’s tennis team. She was an activist for women, peace, AIDS awareness, and mental health issues, and she was a much-beloved Utah personality and writer.

Her love of skiing Utah powder and her penchant for off-piste adventure is beautifully expressed in this poetic piece of advice to a young beginner. Growing up with three brothers, and raising five daughters, Emma Lou had plenty of opportunities to observe, advise and instruct youngsters in skiing.

Lesson #1

Alta. Credit: SkiUtah

Ski here, my child, not on gentle slopes

where the snow is packed and the trail is wide.

Instead, cut through the trees where no one’s tried

the powder. Push toward the hill and rotate

as you rise. No, the snow-plow holds you back;

it’s slow and makes you frightened of your turn.

Think parallel. Stay all in one, then learn

to ski the fall line, always down: Switchback

skiers in their caution never know how

dropping with the mountain keeps the balance

right and rhythm smooth. Don’t watch your tips at

all. Look past them at the deep white snow,

virgin as light, and yours. Just bend, release:

You, gravity, and white, will make your peace.

Powder Mountain. Credit: Ian Matteson



One Comment

  1. Very good article. Loved Emma Lou Thayne’s advice sonnet. If only I could follow every one of her tips.

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