Saturday, 19 of August of 2017

Why A Warrior Poets Society?

Marge
by Dennis Fritzinger

In Marge Piercy’s utopia in Woman On The Edge of Time, she posits small communities where, when decisions are made, there’s a member who puts on a mask —Oak mask, Trout mask, Owl mask— and speaks for the speechless. Gary Snyder suggests that’s what poets do, that’s one of poetry’s functions.

Poets, by being able to speak for nature, have a guiding mission within the environmental movement. But too often as poets we have been undercut by long-winded explainers who say they have the most credible information. But what of having someone around to actually help us understand how studying ecology leads to studying poetry?

Well, I say it’s time for poets to stand up! & get organized—reclaim their rightful place in the earth by putting the Earth First! (or any other) community as bards, seers, and interpreters of the wild.

Poets have earned the right to be called activists. Moreover, poetry is a right brain activity that circumvents blockades put up by the left, “rational” brain, the household of what Bly calls “The Old Position”.

Prior to Descartes, according to Bly, Western literature reflected a people whose sensibility was not divided, a people who did not separate themselves from nature or from those elements in their own individual natures that they could not explain rationally, such as intuition, superstition, and spirituality. He cited the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf as an example, showing that when the poet describes the monster Grendel, he does so without having to explain its existence and without doubting that his audience will believe in such a creature; the Beowulf poet had complete “faith in nighttime events.” This proximity to the darker side of the human psyche, this lack of separation from nature, was destroyed, said Bly, when Descartes declared in 1619, “I think, therefore I am.” 51dfa27cea97a8e5bd82e538324820712ddb3d112161ad31f2cf9eeef12da4c8
 
After Descartes, Western literature would forever divide the autonomous self from nature. As Bly described it in his preface to News of the Universe: What I’ve called the Old Position puts human reason, and so human beings, in the superior position. . . . Consciousness is human, and involves reason. A serious gap exists between us and the rest of nature. Nature is to be watched, pitied, and taken care of if it behaves. In such language the body is exiled, the soul evaporated, the mind given executive power. Bly’s Reference to “The Old Position”

If you want to gauge the importance of poets to the Earth First! movement, check out Ecowarriors (Rik Scarce), The Real Work (Gary Snyder), Simple in Means, Rich in Ends (Bill Devall).

If you want to gauge the importance of poets to the environmental movement as a whole, check out Tongues in Trees (Kim Taplin), Imagining the Earth (John Elder), News of the Universe (Robert Bly), and the intro to The Forgotten Language (Christopher Merrill).

I think poetry can make a contribution to the Earth First! “narrative”—perhaps an even bigger contribution than the poets themselves realize. Or as John Seed, says:

“What we find in one of the processes in the Council of All Beings is a deep mourning, where we start to grieve the loss of things that are being lost from the Earth, our favorite little piece of nature that’s now covered by a freeway or whatever it is, and people begin to weep and howl and wail about what’s being lost.

We’re so afraid that we’re going to be crushed by these feelings, we’ve been led to believe that we’ll be crushed by them, but certainly in this context of a supportive group of people who are encouraging each other to do things, the opposite is always the case. “
 
 


Update From Warriorpoet Ambassador Joey Racano

Joey Racano

Sunset Prayer Ceremony at Thank You Whales two years ago

Sunset Prayer Ceremony at Thank You Whales two years ago (photo by Jennifer Randall)


My name is Joey Racano and I am a Warrior Poet. As the Founding Ambassador to the Warrior Poets Society, I have been posting on the warriorpoets@yahoogroups listserve for a dozen years now, and it continues to be a grand experience.

I use poetry to raise people’s hackles on issues they should know about as well as to educate. My activism is not all online though – far from it!

This Summer I’ll yet again be organizing the 4th annual Thank You Whales event Aug 15th at Avila Beach on California’s Central Coast. I’m also recording a CD with my band, have recently published a book called Dance to the Apocalypse and am writing, writing, writing!

For more info on my art and other efforts, visit these websites:

oceanoutfallgroup.com
earthsourcemedia.org
www.joeysingstheblues.com

Also learn more about my work at these Facebook pages: Spiritpen, Crow Kung Fu, Lake of Fire, Chronopolis, Stop Navy Sonar Testing,Free Tilly, Stop the Diablo Canyon Seismic Testing. 

I’m Proud to be part of this great movement! -Joey Racano


Meet Our Facebook Page Poet, Sid Bridges

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Armed with Visions keeps growing…
 
Today we’d like to introduce you to a remarkable Warrior Poet. He’s a favorite on our website.

Thus far we’ve shared Sid Bridges poems: Techno-Civilization, Born of Myth, Diminishment of Stars and Me and today we posted his poem Our Hubris and Extinctions.

We are grateful for his poetic relentlessness. Since last August on his own initiative he’s posted over 60 quality poems to our Facebook page.

With a prolific effort like that it’s time to thank him and designate him our one and only official Facebook Page Poet.

When we asked Sid for his bio for our about page he wrote us this:

“Born on a farm in North Central Oklahoma. I witnessed small farms disappear due to government policy. Dirt farms became chemical farms.

I saw how the worth of people was dependent on “wealth.” I didn’t like the direction society was headed. There was something amiss with society, or me. Maybe both?

So I became interested in Freudian psychology for answers. A wrong turn, among many. My interest led me to obtain a masters degree in social work and a career in mental health. After retirement I have devoted my time to environmental issues and poetry.”

Thanks for all the great work Robert Bridges, aka: Sid… We look forward to many more poems from you long into the future.


What Species Will You Sing?

poster_tokyo_designer_week

The following is an excerpt from a Douglas Bass blog post.

In February of 2014, I shared a beautiful dream I had. My beautiful dream is for every plant and animal species on earth to have at least one human spokesperson, at least one human advocate, at least one human singer of that species.
 
When I shared that dream, I had no idea whether this dream was possible or not. Between that time and now, I have encountered some numbers regarding this dream.
 
Let’s suppose the number of species is 10,000,000. The earth’s population is 7,137,000,000. That works out to 713 people for each and every species on earth. Some of these species already have advocates, like ducks and pheasants. Many of them do not.

A. D. Chapman said about 10% of the 60,000 vertebrate species were threatened. Perhaps it would be a good thing to focus on those 6,000 species. There are over a million people in the world for each one of those species.

If you’re thinking about advocating for one of those species, this might be a good time to start advocating. Which species will you sing?
ENDANGERED-SPECIES-PREV


Meet Two New Warrior Poet Voices

Spring is fast approaching and Armed with Visions is planning for some early blooming. Our warrior poet society is rapidly increasing in numbers of ecopoetry lovers and many of them want to help us present more ecopoems to you.
 
So we’d like to introduce two new people who have joined us in helping make recordings of poems. They are our first members of Warrior Poet Voices. Here’s a little more information about each of them:

 
 
British Actress Jane Allighan: has 20+ years in theater and movies in UK and she’s helped us with recordings of DH Lawrence’s Snake, as well as Joanna Macy’s Bestiary.

Stay tuned for more poem recordings from Jane in coming months. Also below is a poem she recorded that we’re soon to post:
 
 
 

 
DouglasBass

Douglass Bass: is an enthusiastic poetry reader that we met on Soundcloud. He has 66 poem recordings uploaded to his profile so far.

We are most grateful for Douglas allowing us to use his recording for William Stafford’s Roll Call, which is a primary message inherent in most all ecopoetry.

Additionally, Douglas did a really soothing Brian Eno remix to the voice of Philip Levine in our most recent poem posted called: Our Valley in recognition of the passing of poet laureate Philip Levine.

Douglas’ thoughts are also feature in our most recent blog post here: What Species Will You Sing?
 

~

 
We are very grateful to introduce these two voices to you and we very much look forward two them recording more ecopoems for you to listen to in coming months and years. Long live Warrior Poets!!!


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Joanna Macy on Deep Ecology

Deep Ecology, when it appeared in my life, made immediate sense. To me it is more than a label, it’s the way our world is structured. I take it as a secular equivalent to the Buddha’s teaching of dependent co-arising–and use it that way in my work.

The term was coined by Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess to contrast with environmentalism for purely human interests. Deep ecology is both a school of thought (Naess’s ecosophy and Henryk Skolimowski’s ecophilosophy) and a movement (the deep, long range ecology movement, described early on by Bill Devall and George Sessions). Joanna-a-23.03.08

It has also inspired an array of experiential practices: deep ecology work, developed by John Seed, myself, and others. This form of group work helps to decondition us from centuries from culturally induced anthropocentrism, and to heal our broken relationship with the natural world. It’s an intrinsic part of the Work That Reconnects.

My Teachers: As for all of us in deep ecology work, the natural world is our primary teacher. Among key mentors in childhood I count Spotty, a wise horse, and a particular maple tree. From http://www.joannamacy.netmask4

 


Warrior Poet’s Half Dozen Eco Poems

 
 
In the new anthology “Singing School, Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry” Robert Pinsky tells us poets to go back to the masters to learn. It makes sense. You learn film by studying the masters of film, sculpture by studying the masters of sculpture, the culinary arts by studying their masters, and music by studying masters of music. You learn what the forms are By_Dana_Gibsonwithout becoming just an imitator of your contemporaries, which is highly possible if you study them and them alone.

Pinsky warns of the dangers of falling into group-think, of mimicking a voice or style or sensibility because you see it has rewards and you want those same rewards too. Of course the rewards of poetry and particularly eco-poetry have, so far at least, not been great.

Poet activism isn’t exactly a new thing, but in respect to defending nature it almost certainly is. Even poems written long ago that certainly belong in any eco-poetry canon are in the nature of one-offs: outliers in the warrior poetry universe.

Click this link to view the rest of this post by Dennis Fritzinger: Ecopoet’s Top 12 Books
 

Here are your latest poems:


“When i wrapped my arms halfway ’round a doomed grandmother pine at dawn – and, crying, i prayed for her deliverance.”Susan McCampbell Ring – Cove-Mallard2
 
 
 
 
“Something about a fawn gives a doe a special supply of fearlessness”
Steve Toth – Mother Nature

 
 
 
 
“I cannot see the way in this bamboo wood, but the birds sing and there is the chirp and bellow of frogs–”Rayn Roberts – Secrets From Mountains Above Nagoya
 
 
 
 
“i watch you, as the sky, the empty air, no breath. no life. but you. what are you?”Amanda Leigh Maloney - Strange Poem
 
 
 
 
“In the wind-like whistling song of the starling perched. In the golden yellow flashing light of fireflies. In the vast panoramic corridors of consciousness.”Gary Mennie – Skylands
 
 
 
 
“I think this is the prettiest world — so long as you don’t mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn’t have its splash of happiness?”Marry Oliver - Kingfisher


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Download Your 2015 Warrior Poet Poster


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Warrior Spirit

Warrioress
 
warriorTeach a class for poets who aspire to be warrior poets. A lot of it involves physical training, martial arts and meditation practice.

Then come back to the poetry, and appreciate it for the first time.

In martial arts you learn a series of movements; this is like learning forms in poetry. The practice of each, breath in, breath out, involves breathing. Breathing keeps the mind centered, the body aware.

The warrior takes care of her weapons so they will take care of her. The warrior poet does the same, taking special care to master the forms. Warrior-spirit is what links martial artist and warrior poet.

The clans of warrior poet and warrior both are marked by warrior spirit.

~Dennis Fritzinger
 


Bill Yake’s Review of The Ecopoetry Anthology

The Green, the Gray, and the Mottled, A Review of The Ecopoetry Anthology, 2013. Edited by Ann Fisher-Wirth and Laura-Gray Street, introduction by Robert Hass. Trinity University Press, San Antonio, Texas.
 
ecopoetry

Probably against my better judgment I read this anthology, over the course of several months, front-to-back, cover-to-cover, blurbs-to-credits. I feel obliged to provide an account of findings — whether it serves as an invitation or as a warning.

I’m drawn to the poetry of ecological-environmental-evolutionary concerns and figured this sprawling 628-page tome (occupying a full 1 15/32″ of shelf space — the width, incidentally, of a #24 stopper), including the works of 208 poets — while clearly not a paragon of concision — would provide a comprehensive overview of the best poets and poems of the field; and that it would turn up some valuable discoveries.

There were useful discoveries, yes, but finding them required wading too many unnecessary pages, often filled with mediocre and sometimes painful poetry.

Anthologies inevitably provoke opinions and raise hackles: perceived errors of inclusion, exclusion, and relative weighting — all the judgments that choices trigger. This review follows that honored tradition. I admit to general preferences for the succinct over the meandering, the poetry of knowledge over the poetry of whimsy and obscurity, the vivid image over the bland declaration.

So… Having reached the age at which seeking favor and defending one’s reputation aren’t worth the effort, I’ll dive in:
 
 
The Valuable Discoveries (or confirmations of previous discoveries): The anthology contains much admirable, impressive work. Poems to recommend to your best friends are:

Ralph Black whose 21st Century Lecture proceeds from despair to full-body engagement

Elizabeth Bradford two well-crafted poems of ironic relationships and the land’s ruin

Julia Conner teaching prisoners, watching shorebirds, a deft dance between these that ends in death — for the birds, and — I think — an implied cautionary note for the prisoners

Lola Haskins “The long bones of sandhill cranes/ know their next pond. Not us. / When something is too beautiful,/ we do not have the grace to leave.”

Alison Hawthorne Deming of the steel-trap eye for natural detail and the nimble metaphor

Kathleen Flenniken chronicling the tricky emotional, toxic, and hydrogeological territory Washington State’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation and its history

Lucia Perillo’s potent-crafty nature-pop ironical perspective

Eliot Weinberger’s amazing extended riff on hundreds of ways of perceiving The Stars

Alice Suskin Osriker’s fine, short poem on redemption by beluga

Alberto Rios’ two vigorous-verb-rich poems that compel and urge as life does

William Pitt Root’s paean to Robinson Jeffers’ “poem after bitter poem”, “falcon of a face”, “famous hatred”, and prescience

Eric Paul Shafer’s wonderful ode to the octopus

Derek Sheffield’s ironic and intelligent eye and ear

Charles Goodrich’s haibun-like account of community-versus-pending-fiberglass-factory — concluding defiantly: “I’m not leaving. Ever.”

 
NonameThe Missing in Action: Where are the great poems of other friends and brothers in this poetic territory? The missing include the splendid poet laureate of Ish River Country and the Palouse wheat-fields Robert Sund. Or Lew Welch, irreplaceable beat-environmental poet-compatriot of Gary Snyder, his masterpieces: Wobbly Rock, Chicago Poem, and all the Hermit Poems. Also bard of the Olympic Peninsula, the prolific naturalist and activist Tim McNulty and irascible trekker of abandoned, wild, and arid lands — Howard McCord. And wilderness explorer and Whitman Prize winner – Antler. Where is Kim Stafford? And James Wright?

But wait — my list of gaps has gaps. Although this is described and blurbed as a North American or American anthology, it contains, as far as I can tell, not a single Canadian voice. No Robert Bringhurst, no Don McKay, no Margaret Atwood. It’s as if an anthology of ecopoetic lyrics excluded all mention of Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. These are gaps seriously to be grieved.
 
 
The Disappointments: Sadly, there are far too many slight, flaccid, and/or bafflingly obtuse poems here. I’ll try to be mercifully succinct and cite only a few examples. The average ‘contemporary poet’ gets 2.5 pages in this collection. but John Ashberry gets 6 pp. to hang out some of the most boring, colorless, and prosy laundry this side of a 1950’s convent. He’s endlessly saying things like, “If we could look at a photograph of it and say there they are, they never really stopped but there they are. There is so much to be said, and on the surface of it very little gets said.” Well, yes truly, very little gets said, at least on Ashberry’s watch.

Then there’s James Schulyer’s slight, hazy haze with its goofy “white dahlia,/ big/ as Baby Bumstead’s head”; and Tim Earley’s page-long gimmicky poem (I Like Green Things) stuffed inarticulately with g-words. These include the inapt groins, grog shops and gravity. Yet the Bruce_Leeunmodified green appears 14 times, as if primary colors had no shades or synonyms.

Finally, I’ll bring down the curtain on this brief preview of the murk and misdirection scattered throughout these gathered poems with this observation. Among otherwise historically appropriate poets: Whitman, Dickinson, Jeffers and the like – are poets who seem far out of place.

George Oppen will do as an example. His poems express the perspective of one so deep into his own head as to barely connect with what David Abram perfectly terms the “more-than-human world”. His passive verbs, his eye that sees deer’s teeth as ‘alien’, the woods as ‘strange’ — anything outside himself as a constellation of ‘small nouns’ — all serve to curtain both poet and reader from the spectacular, phenomenal and real world. An objectivist objectifying is not what I think of as an ecopoet.
 
 
The Principals: Many of the giants of U.S. ecopoetry you’d expect to find are represented:
 
Kenneth Rexroth, Jane Hirschfield, Gary Snyder, William Stafford, Galway Kinnell, Robinson Jeffers, Denise Levertov, Pattiann Rogers, Robert Hass, Wendell Berry, Richard Hugo, Brenda Hillman, Robert Bly, — although Bly, with the truly helpful ecopoetic anthology “News of the Universe” to his credit, is represented only by a single, though potent, poem: The Dead Seal.
Despite the disappointments: I thank the editors for their work. The effort and planning required must have been considerable. As rumor has it that this anthology may reach a second edition, I ask that for next go-round they might take few more editorial steps to improve the overall quality of work, making the anthology more concise, useful, and informative for its presumed audience — readers who appreciate a powerful and revelatory poem of ‘more-than-human’ world.
 
 
Suggestions for improvement:
 

  • Reprise the collection and excise the weakest, least relevant 30% to 40% of the material.
  • Editorship, I suppose, has its perquisites, but for the editors to allow themselves each 5 pages of poetry — twice the average allotment and equivalent to, or greater than, the space provided for notables such as Theodore Roethke, Denise Levertov, William Carlos Williams, Wendell Berry, and Jane Hirschfield — seems disproportionate.
  • Consider including some of the missing/forgotten poets noted above. It may not be pure coincidence that many of the missing poets are not academics — MFA chairs, for instance — but folks who have lived other lives — lives like most of the poets in the historical section.
  • Consider reorganization. The Historical / Contemporary division works reasonably well, as does ordering the historical poets by birth date [although it’s not clear why, for instance, Denise Levertov and James Dickey (each 1923-1997) are placed in the historical section, while Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006) and Richard Hugo (1923-1982) were placed in the contemporary section]. The reader’s sense of historical flow and poetic evolution would be improved by ordering the contemporary poets by birth date as well. The current ordering is arbitrarily alphabetical. Another suggestion for communicating historical relevance: include publication dates with the poems.
  • Finally, I’d think about placing the bios with the poets’ works rather than isolated as Contributor’s Notes way at the back of the collection. Easily accessible biographical information could give useful context to the poets’ works. In fact, something other than the standard 50-60-word litany of awards, publications, academic placements — say a brief statement of ecological perspectives or values — could enrich what has become a largely bloodless bio-ritual.

 
 
In summary: The Ecopoetry Anthology is a useful, if occasionally indulgent, reference work. There are gems and seeds scattered widely among plastic bags and flip-flops. May the editors employ another round or two of editing in subsequent efforts. We readers will appreciate it.
 
 
About the reviewer: Bill Yake’s poetry has been published in Wilderness Magazine, Wild Earth, Fine Madness, Puerto del Sol, the Seattle Review, convolvulus, Willow Springs, and several anthologies. You can view his poems on the Warriorpoet website here. You can also experience a video of one of his poems below.
 
 


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