Wednesday, 17 of January of 2018

Tag » ecology

Warrior Spirit

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

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.)

How Does A Warrior Poem Differ From A Nature Poem?

by Dennis Fritzinger

Someone said the poet’s role in an age of ecological catastrophe is to grieve. Just the knowledge of the changes the planet is going through produces pain and suffering in the poet and that’s how grieving or pain and suffering makes it into the poem, often in subtle, but sometimes not-so-subtle ways.

GreenManAnother thing that might happen is the poet puts on a mask and becomes a part of earth that is being diminished or even destroyed. The poet can give that “Other” a voice, much like in the Council of All Beings. The poet’s metamorphosis can produce a poem that couldn’t happen in the poet’s normal voice. It’s the difference between poetry and polemic.

In fact I often say that it’s a poet’s responsibility — the warrior poet’s job — to give a voice to the voiceless. Speak up! for nature, by letting nature speak up for itself.

Then there’s the grief part. What we feel in our personal lives, and that requires knowledge, can produce feelings of grief, even strong feelings of grief. These then can appear in the poems we write, either as a walk-on part or center stage. An entire poem may be a ritual of grieving. But, as I said, knowledge is necessary — you have to follow what’s going on (I read a lot) or be able to see it with your own eyes and think about it with your own brain.

So it’s important to process the information that comes to you. So important. Yet hard to do, there’s so much of it. And making sense of it–the processing–isn’t always easy. Being poets, we are language workers. Each of us has developed, or in process of developing, our own unique voice or way of saying things, which is all tangled up with our way of seeing things of course. And then there’s what we see and think about.

A lot of this flows out of our daily life. If we are lucky enough to have pursued a path in science, we’re half-way there already. But it doesn’t have to be science, it could be farming, or working as a forest ranger, or having any number of passions that involve the outdoors–surfing and rock-climbing, to name a few. Get the body involved, and the head will follow. Then the words will come.


That still leaves the question of where the line is between a nature poem and a warrior poem, since they both deal with nature. On one side of the divide there’s just nature in all its fecundity and beauty, nature as it would be if it was left alone by us. On the other side, there’s the human presence–everything we’ve done to alter the earth. That’s the raw material.

And we, as human beings, as poets, find it necessary at times to protest our own specie’s behavior. That’s when we express our grief, our anger, our outrage in our poetry. Or celebrate it, if for instance we have just joined together to take out a dam or cut a fishing net off a trapped whale.

At the very least we need to bear witness, like the Quakers. Warrior poetry is also a poetry of bearing witness.

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Walkin’ Jim – Evangelist for Wilderness


Early days of Armed with Visions website was everpresent with Walkin’ Jim


Poems of a poet who has walked as far as John Muir:
Rock Dream, Bull River Woods, Bat Cave, and Joshua Tree.

walkin_jim_coloby Dennis Fritzinger

I first met Walkin’ Jim Stoltz at an Earth First! Rendezvous. A very tall, lean, lanky man with incredible musical talent, I had never heard of him before. Then, Earth First! was a magnet with a vision that drew incredible musical and other talents to it.

Walkin’ Jim was exceptional in many ways. An accomplished guitarist and songwriter with a twinkle in his eye, he had a singing voice that was like no other’s — deep, raspy, colorful, it was quite unlike his speaking voice. It reminded me of the canyons he sang about; there was a quality of wildness in it, a quality of the wilderness itself.

Jim would go on these many mile hikes and hike for hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles across the U.S. — through canyons, over mountains, across prairies — following rivers, daring mountain passes, surviving heat and snow and encounters with large animals, and he took it all in — he took every bit of it in. Jim was a minstrel for wilderness, an evangelist, and his songs, filled with stories and sounds, reflect that, and continue to inspire us to this day.

“In his lifetime, he accomplished numerous long-distance treks including the complete lengths of the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, an east-to-west cross-continent hike, the entire U.S. Continental Divide, trips from Yellowstone to the Yukon, and many others. In total, he hiked more than 28,000 miles of long-distance trips.” –

Jim hiked more in a year than I have in my lifetime, and went more places than I ever dreamed of. As he was hiking a trail somewhere, a song would come to him and he’d sit down under a tree or on a rock and write it down. Or maybe he’d be sitting in the tent he put up at the end of a long day, and amid the preparation for dinner and sleep, he’d pick up his guitar and Jim_in_treestrum a few chords and suddenly a new song would start to materialize in his head and in the air around him. The trees, birds, and little animals that live in rocks got quite a few free concerts from Jim!

Of course Walkin’ Jim wasn’t always out there somewhere walking. Like a latter-day John Muir he would return to home base now and then. John Muir we associate with Yosemite, but home base for Muir was in the Bay Area. It was there he wrote his books and articles that became so influential. Jim’s base was with his family in Montana. That’s where he returned to rest up, to organize his latest songs and poems and share them first with friends and relatives, and to replenish. It was also where the schedule for his many singing tours began, complete with slide show and many slides. Thanks to the magic of photography, he could show his audience he wasn’t just making it up.

An evangelist has to evangelize, and to do that you have to entertain. Even more than a John Muir, Jim was a latter-day kokopelli traveling America’s heartland, though with a guitar instead of a flute. I make this comparison because kokopelli always has a backpack, though it’s hard to tell from the drawings if he was as tall.

Jim was able to entertain because he was a superb storyteller. Humorous, he had the sort of voice that could keep you rapt in attention, just as you would be if you were hearing it at a campfire. Jim had the ability to turn a large concert hall into an intimate space, much like a campfire. The slides and the songs would transport you, and he’d always throw in an appeal to write a letter in support of some place or critter somewhere that needed help. That’s the evangelist side of the entertainer.

When we lost Jim we lost a powerful presence, a powerful voice for the wilderness, and I lost a good friend.

The Kid for the Wild Scholarship is a tribute to the memory and vision of Walkin’ Jim Stoltz and his “kid for the wild” spirit.

Song & Poem by Brian D. Tripp

“This video clip was commissioned by American Rivers in order to communicate some of the reasons for dam removal to Legislators and decision makers in D.C. Since these folk generally have short attention spans, and limited time – we kept it to 10 minutes. It only scratches the surface, and does not attempt to delve into the complexities of the Klamath River Basin Restoration Agreement.

The fact that stakeholders and agencies and conservation groups have gotten together to work out a solution is more than “Kumbaya” – it represents a shift from endless battling to seeking solutions – namely the removal of the 4 lowermost dams on the Klamath River.


For more views of Klamath river basin, dams and blocked habitats go: here.

Dam removal is the keystone to restoring the fishes and fisheries of the Klamath River. A stakeholder based agreement is more likely to get us there than anything else. The times are changing. Can we evolve with the changes?” –Brian D. Tripp

From the Spawning Ground – poem and songs by Brian D. Tripp from Thomas B. Dunklin on Vimeo.

Report: This Year’s Watershed Poetry Festival


This year’s Watershed got off to a slow start for me since I was busy gathering stuff to set up on the Poetry Flash table, as well as other things like emergency food, sunscreen etc. It was taking so much time I knew I wouldn’t make the Creek Walk this year, but oh well.

Finally I got everything together and left, shouldering a black daypack and carrying, rolled up, the warrior poets poster I planned to tape to a table edge if it was possible. I also brought a stack of warrior poet cards to leave on the table above the poster and to give out to each of the poets on stage as they finished their set, which I did but more about that later.

I set out across campus and hiked down one of the familiar ways that led to a eucalyptus grove named the Grinnell Natural Study area. The grove has the creek running through it, and as I skirted the Life Sciences building on my way to the west entrance of the campus I noticed a file of people making their way ahead of me. I caught up with them just in time to ask the last person in line if this was the Creek Walk. It was.

So I didn’t miss it after all, at least for a few steps. As the line continued to veer off to the east where the creek emerges from another grove of trees I went west and paralleled its culverted course as it swung through downtown and over, finally, to hide below Martin Luther King Jr. Park. where the Watershed event was being busily gotten ready for with people putting up banners, flags, and folding chairs for the day’s festivities.


I spotted Joyce right away and asked if it would be okay to put a few things out. She said yes and we walked over to the Poetry Flash booth to see what was available. When we got there I wound up taping the poster to a corner under a photo of the redwood whale that was at a couple of Watershed events, and put out a stack of warrior poet cards for people to see and take.

Then I drifted off and found Mark to see if he needed any help setting things up. He said everything was under control so thanks but no thanks. That gave me liberty to wander over to the Farmer’s Market for a look-around, then back to check out the other tables. At one of them the local chapter of had set up and I stopped and chatted with its members and gave one of them a warrior poet card.

I also walked by the Ecology Center booth but didn’t see anyone I knew, so I continued on my way until I finally grabbed a seat in the main viewing area, under a tie-dyed surplus parachute Mark had discovered while visiting a surplus store. The parachute provided good shade and the sound was excellent as I was right in front of the speakers albeit thirty feet away.

SilbergI was up from my seat looking at pictures from past events that were on a pole right behind me when Richard Silberg stepped up to the mic and welcomed everybody to the 18th Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival. That’s when I knew the hands of the clock had finally touched twelve, as Watershed always starts at the crack of noon.

After Richard’s introductory welcome we were treated to music from the Barry Finnerty Trio, a very fine jazz trio that’s been serenading Watershed-goers for years. The program called Richard’s introductory welcome “Stand Up for the Earth!” and this set the tone for everything to come.

After listening to a little jazz Richard came back to the mic and announced the “We Are Nature” open reading and called out six names. Six people who had their names pulled from a hat who wanted to read all came up, one by one, in the order Richard announced them.

This year the open reading had some mighty good poetry in it. Each of the readers was articulate, evocative, and kept to the day’s theme. So anyone who came late and missed this part missed a really good section. And this was just the beginning.

Dennis & ChrisNext David Lukas, free-lance naturalist who led the Creek Walk, took the stage and spoke eloquently and succinctly about the Creek and its history and ecology and relation to the campus. His extemporaneous remarks didn’t last long but served as good background for the next part of the event, which was the readings by the poets who had also gone on the Creek Walk.

Richard, our emcee for the day, introduced the Creek Walk poets one by one, and the first to read was Mary Mackey, who set the bar high with her passionate, well-crafted reading and poems. Mary was followed by John Shoptaw, Barbara Jane Reyes, Tom Wilson, Jennifer Elise Foerster, and finally by performance poet Chris Olander, wearing his warrior poets t-shirt for the occasion.

When Chris finished we were treated to readings by the youngest among us, student poets from California Poets in the Schools introduced by Maureen Hurley, and River of Words and Poetry Inside Out winners introduced by John Oliver Simon. This is a traditional part of the program and what helps make Watershed unique, not to mention enjoyable for people of all ages.

After listening to the poems of “the poets of the future” as Richard introduced them, we heard a little more from the Barry Finnity Trio. I decided it was time to revisit the Farmer’s Market and did so while very good strains of jazz were rising in the background.
Dennis & Gary Snyder
Suddenly the strains stopped and I heard a familiar voice. I hurried back from the market to hear Kirk Lumpkin, Ecology Center/Farmer’s Market presenter, speak to the crowd. I regained my seat in time to hear Kirk do a poem then introduce Ozzie Zehner, author of “Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism.”

Taking the mic, Ozzie began by saying he wasn’t attempting to overthrow environmentalism, just to question some of the assumptions we have about “clean energy”. Then he launched into an anecdote about his career as a green architect, and read a short section from his book to illustrate his point, which threw cold water on numerous “tekkie” ideas about having our cake and eating it too.

When Ozzie walked offstage our emcee regained the mic and introduced poet Alan Soldofsky, who steered the day’s event back to ecopoetry. Then Alan was followed by Ann Fisher-Wirth, reading from her six-year long project that just got 51jXRJ9LpUL._SY300_published this year, “The Ecopoetry Anthology”. As you can see the Watershed event had a lot of depth this year, and we’re just getting started.

After Ann Fisher Wirth we heard Giovanni Singleton, and then Brian Teare took center stage and read us a number of long, naturalistic poems, most of them set in California. Then we were treated to more jazz followed by Matthew Zapruder, who started with a poem titled “Global Warming”. With the sun beating down as hard as it did for most of the day, no one in attendance needed to be convinced of that, although, of course, scientifically there’s no connection.

Following Matthew we got to listen to Brenda Hillman, whose monumental series of books about Earth, Air and Water has now been completed with one about Fire called “Seasonal Works With Letters On Fire“. Just to hear Brenda read from her latest book was a treat, and she also pointed out that the hat she was wearing was a souvenir from a global warming demo at the White House where she and her husband and the president of the Sierra Club all got arrested. Going to a demo was a good way to get a free hat, she said.

Five sixths of the day was now over and we were ready for the final sixth, which started with Bob Hass taking center stage with special guest Wang Jiaxin. Wang is a poet from China visiting in the U.S. and teaching here. Together they did a reading and translation duet with Wang reading the original and Bob following with the English translation. I don’t remember a similar event at any of the previous Watersheds, so this gave this year’s Watershed a flavor all its own.
Hass & Jiaxin

The poems, in English at least, were imagistic and, at times, funny. They may also have been political in the original, but I wouldn’t know that. After the dual reading, Bob Hass read us a few short poems of his own, giving Richard Silberg enough time to come up and introduce the final reader of the day’s event, Gary Snyder.

Richard always has a personal way of introducing the next poet or reader or music trio, and by the time the poet or reader or trio comes up we feel we know enough about them to get ready to listen to them. Of course everyone there at Watershed already knew something about Gary Snyder or had at least heard about him, so Richard had to come up with something to tell us that we didn’t know. This he did by telling us what he didn’t know about Gary, that Gary had begun his career as a mountain climber, even before he took up poetry. Then he added that Gary was one of the original readers in the Gallery Six Reading that launched the so-called “Beat Generation”, and invited us to “Welcome Gary Snyder” which we did, to thunderous applause.

GGarySnyderary, now in his eighth decade but hardly looking it, stepped up to the mic and immediately put everyone at ease by talking to us just like we were guests in his living room.

After a few anecdotes he said he was going to read us a few poems that had not been published (“at least yet”) and read us “Gnarly”, “Anger, Cattle and Achilles”, “Why California Will Never Be Like Tuscany”, “Starting the Spring Garden and Thinking of Tom Jefferson” and several other poems, ending us with “Five Short Poems for Fixing the System”.

After the first poem (applause from the crowd) Gary said “I should have said this before I started, I’m going to make a rule–no applause after a poem. When I’m finished if you applaud, that’s your business.” It was tough, at times, holding back, but we did the best we could. And at the end, everybody applauded.

Then Bob Hass came back on and invited several of the other poets who had read that day (including Joyce Jenkins, who with Mark Baldridge are the mainstays of Watershed and the reason it goes on each year, who hadn’t read) to end the day by doing a group reading of a poem by Seamus Heaney, who recently passed away. Each read four lines with Bob reading the end of the poem, and with it, ending this year’s Watershed. Except for more great jazz from the Barry Finnerty Trio and getting in line at the book table for signed copies by the poets that had read that day.

–Dennis Fritzinger

3 Deep Green Poetry Editors

Besides the Earth First! Journal, which has always been a home for deep green poetry, there are three other publications worthy of note that have attracted many fine nature poets and published many fine poems.

They are Wilderness, published by the Wilderness Society; OnEarth (formerly Amicus Journal), published by the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council); and Orion, published by the Orion Society.
Brian Swann, poetry editor for OnEarth/Amicus, has been on the job the longest, with John Daniel, poetry editor for Wilderness, close behind. Orion’s poetry editor, Hannah Fries, came to Orion as an intern in 2005.

Not only are these three editors of periodicals, two of them are also editors of anthologies, which are better for sticking in a backpack or pocket of a field jacket. These collections are words to share at campfires, words to read to the trees, words to declaim at the beach.

Out of all of them, Brian Swann may be the best of the bunch, though it’s a close call. Besides editing poetry for an incredibly long time (3 or 4 decades) he’s produced two books, the more recent being Poetry Comes Up Where It Can, which is a line in a poem by Homero Aridjis. It also pretty much describes the healthy state of so much fresh pure green poetry as works of living ecology and hydrology currently rising:

among boulders charging madly upstream;
to feel its handle yank at and flutter half free
of your fingers; to catch that dim chime
stainless steel barely gives off, nicking rock
underwater; to wet shirt-cotton with dribbles
so icy the frontal lobes ache like migraine
after each swallow; then, as that fades,
to dip again to the bottom of the world’s well
which around here is snowpack so near to the sky
that’s pretty much what it tastes like,
you could borrow this cup.

(by Reg Saner, from anthology:Poetry Comes Up Where It Can)

And then in John Daniel’s book, Wild Song, there is equal beauty and wonder — it includes many of the same poets as Swann’s collection. Especially when it comes to throwing out a hook in the first few lines that drags the reader in. For example, the beginning of “Camping in the Cascades” by Joseph Powell:

Hungry for bootprints, shades of differences,
we’ve come to think like the earth.

Or the opening lines of “Chainsaw” by Roger Jones:

The way it pops and razzes
and grumbles under its breath,

In his preface Daniel’s writes: “Early in 1988 I wrote Tom Watkins, editor of Wilderness, urging him to publish poetry in the magazine. To my surprise, and perhaps to his, Tom wrote back, ‘Why don’t we give it a shot? You’re the poetry editor.’”

As editors of green poetry we’ve an obligation to not give up on unearthing (cultivating) a green poem in all its many varieties, whenever and wherever it arises. The poems these particular editors choose are the healing edge of Green Poetry!

bannerAll us editors recommend you try going through these publications and landing on any page (and any poem), it’s a real treat! Not just in “this is a great poem” sense, but “this is a great green poem” sense. The color of the poem makes a difference, after all.

And some may ask why does any of this matter?

First, I’m grateful that other publications, have devoted ink and electrons to the true task of the warriorpoet. Second, I’m grateful that major organizations are discriminating enough to find green poetry editors. And finally, third, the green poet’s/poem’s task itself: bring the non-human into the equation.


That task is what seems both ecologically correct and humble. The human animal is perhaps most human when it is most humble, or at least I think so.

Finally, I’ve come to the conclusion that the necessity that editors of green poetry are most concerned with is the necessity of quashing the human ego long enough so the rest of our living earth can speak and be spoken for. And this green poetic voice we curate, it’s still young.

May this young bear cub we call green poetry grow old and wise and one day roar like a giant mama bear protecting her young.


Dennis Fritzinger
Chief cook and bottle washer
Warrior Poets Society

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