Sunday, 17 of December of 2017

Tag » deep ecology

Leaves From an Australian Forest Protest by Ron Fletcher

Book Review by Dennis Fritzinger

Our friends Down Under are endlessly inventive. Not only have they given us John Seed, they brought Middle Earth to the Nullica Forest. In the pages of this book we find Bilbo (Baggins), but also elves, blue fairies and the like. (Granted, Tolkien didn’t write about blue fairies, but when you meet them you’ll know what they are.)

This is a book of poems. It covers a whole campaign, at least its author’s involvement in it. The only parallel I can think of is Grasshopper’s coverage of Red Cloud Thunder, though it was spotty by comparison and didn’t invoke Middle Earth’s language at any time.

Middle Earth in Australia? Isn’t it supposed to be in New Zealand? Isn’t that where they shot the movie? True enough, but the greenies put it in Nullica Forest this time, and that’s where we find it.

Technically speaking, the poems her are formal verse — that is, they rhyme. Rhyme, as we know, is a powerful tool for creating memories. Even unexceptional poems may have a line or two that is memorable thanks to its rhyming. The book, also, is organized like a diary. We are introduced to the author first, and then important actors in the story. Even the title harks back to an earlier piece of Australia by a similar name.

Opening the covers of the book we quickly meet a cast of familiar characters and problems — familiar to anyone who has taken part in a forest campaign, that is. There are moments of heartache, moments of triumph, and a good deal of humor throughout. The book is about the same length as one of the childhood classics we read when we were kids, so it’s easy to get through.

Into the Sky

When spirits are thrown down from on high
Lift them straight back into the sky,
For a phoenix is born from within our loss,
Hold onto your faith but don’t carry a cross.
For we have the strength, at the end of the day,
And the power within us, to walk our own way;
In the depths of despair we will never lose hope,
No matter how high or how steep the slope.
So if blown by the storm or oppressed by the man
Dust yourself off and make a new plan,
Keep treading the path that makes you feel whole,
Though rocky and steep, it is good for the soul.

— Ron Fletcher

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Moving Rocks


Less-WordsThe fifty to a hundred words making up a poem on Armed With Visions is a minuscule amount compared to the number of words you encounter in a day, yet that single poem can and hopefully will have much more impact than all the rest of the words you hear that day.

Turning a gene off or on makes a big difference to a genome — it determines which proteins get made and which aren’t, and this in turn determines all the physical features of the creature involved.

A tiny change can lead to vast consequences, and a series of tiny changes can do even more — turn a dinosaur into a bird, for instance. Move a rock at a spring’s source and it can change the direction of the stream it feeds, and in turn the creek and river. Just moving a rock.

As warrior poets, that’s what we do — move rocks. We seek to change the flow from one direction to another. If we can do that, even a little bit, we’ll have done our job.

–Dennis Fritzinger

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What Species Will You Sing?


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?

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:


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


RIP: Craig Oare

Congratulations to the first dead poet to get “longtime member of warriorpoet society” mentioned in their obituary. May many more of us eco-poets one day mention our brand of warriorpoet association in our own obituary!

On reflecting on his passing Editor Dennis Fritzinger said:
“I only knew Craig through his poetry. We never met. I think I published [Earth First! Journal] every poem he sent me, which amounts to 8 in all. From Craig’s poems I thought he was some young guy, but in his photo I see I was mistaken. Of course, we’re all getting older. Lucky to still be walking the planet, I say.”


Craig Oare Craig Oare came to the close of his life at the age of 66, on October 9, 2014, surrounded by the primal beauty of his much-loved Olympic National Forest. Craig was an accomplished Olympia poet and author of six chapbooks. He was a longtime member of Olympia Poetry Network and Warrior Poets Society.

He loved to spend time downtown at Traditions, where he could often be found drinking coffee, discussing politics, life, or baseball with friends, and working on poems. During the more than thirty years he resided in Olympia, Craig worked as a caregiver, school bus driver, and, his favorite, a bookseller at Orca Books.

Prior to moving to Olympia, Craig also enjoyed working at Raintree Nursery in Morton. The firstborn child of Dale and Irma Oare, Craig entered the world on November 8, 1947 in Iowa. He grew up in southern California, and earned his B.A. in history at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Craig_Oare2To his family and many friends, Craig was a sparkling presence in our lives, a gently yet strongly determined force for good in the world, a deep thinker, and a master of puns. He is survived in loving memory by his dad and second mom, Dale and Sherry Oare of South Dakota, and his sister and brother-in-law, Bonnie and Marc Jones of Olympia. There will be a memorial gathering on Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 4:00 p.m., in the sanctuary of Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 2300 East End Street NW, Olympia.

Friends are invited to speak, read, play music, or simply sit and listen, in honor of Craig. Memories and messages may be posted to Craig’s guest book at: Craig left his wish that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Amnesty International.

Here’s how Craig described himself on the back cover of one of his chapbooks:
“Craig Oare apparently spent much of the decade from 1968-78 in Berkeley, although he has no memory of having ever seen the place. He was smuggled across the border by the great-grandson of Johnny Appleseed, and they spent several years together planting trees on the slopes of Mt. St. Helens. He woke up one morning covered with volcanic ash in the parking lot of the Olympia Food Co-op, and lived in the freebox there until Christmas of ’97, when he was traded to Orca Books for a crate of Mad magazines.”

Learn About Craig’s last day here.

Two recordings of Craig’s poems are posted below.
To view the full presentation of these poems go here.

Ecopoetry: Top 12 Books On My Warriorpoet’s Bookshelf

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.

AliceWalkerIt’s only when we get to the last century (in the English language, and particularly, the American tongue) that we find poets whose ecological sensibilities pervade their poetry. The more familiar to us, because still alive, is Gary Snyder, but before Gary there was Robinson Jeffers, and there are others as well.

Besides offering what I view as the 12 most important titles on my bookshelf, I want readers to know they aren’t alone in their concern for the earth or in trying to express that concern in poetry, either as flaming arrows, or something a little less dramatic but still deeply felt.

download1) A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold: I first heard about this book from Dave Foreman when the original Earth First! Roadshow stopped in Berkeley. It was part of his stage performance (“The Speech”), specifically the story Leopold tells about encountering a wolf in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. Leopold was a young ranger and, as he put it, “full of trigger itch”. He and some other rangers were out on horseback when they saw a wolf and two cubs in the distance. I won’t spoil the story by telling what happened next, but it’s a famous story and has been retold many times.

A concept-heavy book with many great quotes and turns of thought, perhaps the most important one is this: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” This book is known as a classic in its field, but I’m tempted to say that’s selling it short. It is literally without peer.


2) Selected Poems by Robinson Jeffers: This small book is a great read and very portable. There are anthology pieces like “Hurt Hawks” and “Shine, Perishing Republic”, as well as many others with the glorious imagery of the rugged California coast.

Jeffers is no simple nature poet, however, as he brings ideas into his poetry, ideas that have not proved popular with some people since he is critical of governments and the human species as a whole. You might think of him as a misanthrope who likes (some) people. He thinks humans are in general too full of themselves, consequently his philosophy he termed “inhumanism”—meaning, I take it, the opposite of “humanism”.

Today he would probably say he was a biocentrist, albeit one deeply distrustful of people. I recommend this book because of its many great poems but also its introduction to Jeffers’ thought, which is perhaps the fresher for being occasionally abrasive.

Abbey3) The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey: Widely credited as the inspiration for Earth First! After getting my degree at San Francisco State and supporting myself playing tournament chess for a few years, I was running out of money so I decided to go back to school so I could take advantage of the G.I. Bill. I enrolled in Merritt College in Oakland and signed up for basically every science course they had. I took courses in biology, botany, marine biology, oceanography, geology, paleontology, astronomy, river studies, and desert studies.

One of the books on the reading list for Desert Studies was the acclaimed “Desert Solitaire” by Edward Abbey, which I enjoyed so much that when I finished I went to Cody’s Books (the late, great Berkeley bookstore) to see what else by the author I could find. As it happened the store had just got in a shipment of his latest book, a novel titled “The Monkey Wrench Gang”. It was like no book I had ever read, a comic, rollicking masterpiece about a pride of desert lovers driving around the Southwest, trying to save the desert that they loved. Needless to say the book made a great impression on me, as it did (it turned out) on many other people. Abbey, the thoughtful anarchist and social gadfly, created as memorable a cast of characters as you’ll find in a novel. It would be difficult to imagine an Earth First! appearing on the scene when it did, without it.

4) News of the Universe: Poems of Two-Fold Consciousness by Robert Bly. Looking back over my copy of this ground-breaking anthology I’m reminded of the piquant analysis of western history and thought, particularly as represented by the “Enlightenment”. Bly was getting at a biocentric way of thinking and writing. Bly says most people experienced the world before the Enlightenment as a place of wonder, but after the Enlightenment it became more and more just something to exploit. As Bly puts it, “more and more people were on that boat”. But then, Bly says, there was a push-back. The Romantic poets and others offered counter-argument, and though this remained a minority position for quite a while, given the state of the environment today it’s looking more and more like it’s the correct one.

Besides the essays scattered throughout the book developing these ideas, Bly showers us with poems (in English) from around the world. Poems from the Inuit, Navajo, European nations, and of course the Americas (North and South) show us that the “majority position” is by no means universally accepted. Much of the strength of this book comes from its multiculturalism.


5) Earth Prayers by Elizabeth Roberts, Elias Amidon: Like the Bly anthology, this collection ranges world-wide. Focuses on the spiritual side of things. This book was featured at a reading at Gaia Bookstore, a bookstore in Berkeley that no longer exists but was a favorite of mine. I met the authors there and gave them a copy of the Warrior Poet newsletter I had published. Elizabeth took one look at it and exclaimed “The Work!” That’s when I knew we were on the same page. Gaia bookstore’s name still exists in the Gaia building, which hosts the David Brower Center in downtown Berkeley.

Earth Prayers became a best-seller and remains in print. It is a good size for backpacking (always important to us nature lovers) and has many inspiring prayers and poems gathered from the world’s traditions. There’s also a good lead-in by the authors that give you a better sense of where they’re coming from. Suffice it to say, for them prayer was a way of coming to grips with the environmental crisis and overcoming the heavy sense of depression they felt as they saw nature’s systems crashing all around the world. The poems and prayers in the book are a way of re-connecting to the world, a way of healing the immense hurt that knowledge inflicts. Consequently the book isn’t a downer but a wise companion.

small-planet6) Poems for a Small Planet by Robert Pack, Jay Parini: An obvious take-off on the title of the famous “Diet for a Small Planet” by Frances Moore Lappe, the editors make no bones about why they put this book together. It’s the poets’ response to the environmental crisis.

This book is more like a standard poetry anthology. The poems in it are contemporary, with many familiar and unfamiliar names. What makes it different from the aforementioned books is the poets are all American, and all contemporary. There are introductions by both editors that seek to explain why they put the book together in the first place, and while that’s good, it’s their sure eye for picking out what to include that wins me over. Simply put, the poems are a look at what is being written today (well, at the time the book came out, at least), what people’s concerns were, the level of concern, how informed they were about the world around them. A little too big to take backpacking, it’s still an important addition to the warrior poets bookshelf.


7) Wild Song by John Daniel – As a longtime poetry editor for the Wilderness Society’s publication, the poems in his book are drawn from its pages. Anyone who edits a poetry section for an environmental magazine has to straddle two worlds – the world of poetry and the world of the environment. These poems, first published by the Wilderness Society, fit in neatly to the traditions of wilderness and wilderness protection in America. Poets submitting their poems to the magazine did it for a reason – they were attracted to its concerns and work. Consequently if the poems did get published, you know they were going to fit in with that tradition.

Daniel says the poems selected, “…decry ecological injuries, celebrate nature’s beauties and point to its many mysteries, and bear witness to our ever-available opportunity to recognize ourselves as rightful members of the evolutionary flow of earthly life.

John Daniel is one of very few long-term poetry editors in the field, and that gives this small volume a certain weight. Not the best dimensions for a back pocket, but it fits nicely into the side or front pocket of a backpack.

8) The Gary Snyder Reader: Prose, Poetry, and Translations: Gary Snyder is undoubtedly the most famous eco-poet of our time. He practically created the genre, and this book shows his thinking in both poetry and prose. As a treat, it even recounts the genesis of “Smokey the Bear Sutra”, Snyder’s blend of West, East, and Ecology all in one poem.

I picked this book to represent Snyder because it shows the range of his thought and writing skills better even than his selected poems, his Pulitzer Prize-winning “Turtle Island”, which I also could have chosen, or any of his other books, of which he has many. Anyone interested in a genre called “eco-poetry” absolutely has to experience Snyder’s work.


9) Poetry Comes Up Where it Can by Brian Swann: Brian edited, and I think still edits, the poetry section for The Amicus Journal (now OnEarth) for the NRDC. A terrific book, and very portable.

Brian Swann is the poetry editor of many years for Amicus (now OnEarth), the publication of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Brian details how he got the job in an amusing anecdote, and we are lucky he did since the two collections he created from its pages (this, with an introduction by Mary Oliver, is the second) are both keepers. Of the two, however, this is my favorite, probably because it has so many great poems in it I can’t find anyplace else, not to mention that it fits comfortably in the side pocket of my cargo pants.


10) Can Poetry Save The Earth? by John Felstiner: A scholarly look at American eco-poetry. This is a great book we celebrated at a tribute reading at the Berkeley Ecology Center. The book is more a scholarly work than it is a poetry anthology. So anyone looking for a scholarly approach to American eco-poetry will find this book an indispensable guide to the field. John will quote a few lines in writing about the poet, but then you will have to go to the library to get the rest of the poem. This may turn some readers off, but it does overcome the weakness of the “anthology” approach, which is to select a few favorites or anthology pieces when there is often much more to discover by the individual poet.

The answer to the title’s question is, not by itself, it can’t. But that’s beside the point. Poetry inspires people to act. Poetry also expresses deep-seated emotions, and sometimes those deep-seated emotions get turned into actions in the real world.


11) How to Live on the Planet Earth by Nanao Sakaki – A close friend of Gary Snyder’s, poet, and vagabond, Nanao’s influence in this country is starting to grow; in his native Japan he is already well-known.

I met Nanao at a Rainforest Activists Conference in San Francisco at Fort Mason. He was on a panel and I don’t remember what he said but I remember him being there. I had come to hear him because I had read his book “Break the Mirror” published by Blackberry Press in Maine by Earth First! poet Gary Lawless. I thought it was terrific and wanted to meet him

Lawless published several other of Nanao’s books, and sadly, this is likely to be the last since Nanao, eternal wanderer, is now off walking the star road. Yet he leaves us these impressive poems where we can accompany him on many other walks, some as far away as the other side of the universe. (I should also mention he’s also very funny at times.)

ecopoetry12) Eco-Poetry Anthology by Ann Fisher-Worth, Laura Gray-Street: Finally somebody had to come out with this title. A hefty tome, not suitable for backpacking, but a substantial contribution to the emerging eco-canon.

This is the last book I’ll recommend here. Its breadth is simply breath-taking, and it follows the familiar formula of having an introduction by its editor or editors explaining their take on current eco-poetry, followed by the selections they have made. This is only the most recent contribution to the eco-poetry genre, so stay tuned! We’ll let you know as more cross the Warriorpoets desk.

–Dennis Fritzinger

Rendezvous Wrap-Up by Dennis Fritzinger

West Branch Campground
This year’s Round River Rendezvous (known affectionately as the rondy) was held at West Branch campground in Northern California, about 4 miles (so I hear) from Poker Flat.

Advantages of the site were:

1) easy to get to;

2) numerous campsites and workshop sites;

3) a cold creek running through it where we could cool off during the hottest days, and draw our drinking and washing water from (upstream from there).

Kitchen was well-organized and Morning Circles were well-run. Organizationally everything was very smooth.

West Branch Campground2
Several days were in the hundreds, and on those days the nights were warm enough to sleep without a sleeping bag until about 5 AM when things finally cooled off.

We also had a few cooler days for variety, and cooler nights. The entrance road made a big loop when you reached the main camp, and there was a latrine not far away so that was convenient.

Fire danger was high, and fires were only allowed in a few select spots, namely the rowdy campfire and kitchen area. Other spaces made use of tiki torches, and that worked just fine. Rowdy Campfire

There were a fair number of dogs, and that caused problems occasionally, but that’s about par for a rondy. Interpersonal relations generally went very smoothly, but the conflict team was available in case there was a need. Everyone was respectful of the need to keep intoxicants out of the public and family areas, so I didn’t see any problems there.

The rendezvous was multi-generational, from infants up through grandparents, and as far as I could tell everyone self-identified as an Earth First!er except for a reporter or two and a very small contingent of Green Anarchists. General impression? Earth First! is as young as it ever was, it’s only me that’s getting older.

People we know who were there: KP, Garlic, Karen Coulter, Gedden, Rod Coronado, Jonathan Paul, Dana Lyons, Tim Ingalsbee, Dave Parks, Andy Caffrey, Jim Flynn, Chris Manes, Dennis Davie.

Workshops I went to: Deep Ecology, hosted by Gedden, Karen Pickett, and Karen Coulter. Earth First! History, hosted by the two Karens. Ancient DNA, hosted by Dave Parks. Journal, hosted by the Journal Staff. And a workshop on the Mattole.

Mosquitoes? Yes. A few at breakfast, but most came at dinner-time. Except for mosquitoes, butterflies were the most numerous invertebrates. I also saw a dragonfly, a metallic wood-boring beetle with beautiful metallic green wing covers, and a small scorpion that glowed green under Dave Parks’ ultraviolet light.

There was the familiar dawn chorus of birds, but birds seemed to be mostly silent during the day, or maybe I was just too busy meeting people to notice them. Except for birds and humans, there were no vertebrates around that I noticed — no ground squirrels, chipmunks, deer, bears or any other.

Trees: Doug Fir, Hemlock, and Madrone. Understory: raspberries, poison oak, other.

Skies: a few clouds now and then. No rain.

Warrior Poets Society Meeting: four attended.

Welcome Back party for JP and Rod, Friday, July 4th, up at the rowdy fire. We had a good crowd.

Rally, Saturday, July 5th, first two hours were down where we had morning circle every morning, close to the camp kitchen. I tried out some new material. Then we had a break and moved up to the rowdy fire, where it went on into the wee hours. People seemed to enjoy both parts of the Rally. Part one was in a general space so it was alcohol free. Part two had a keg.

Sunday was the Journal Workshop, as well as planning for the Action. I didn’t go to the Action planning so I have no idea where the Action was this year, though my guess is it was at both the Mattole and at Seneca Biomass burner in Eugene.

One thing different about this year’s rondy is the amount of attention we were getting from the LEOs. They were stopping nearly every car that came up, and some were even stopped twice. If they found the smallest infraction they’d search your car, at least that’s what I heard.

So there you have it. My Rendezvous report.

(I should also mention that I brought a bagful of copies of Roadkill on the Highway of Love with me, and in two days I had given them all away.)