Saturday, 19 of August of 2017

Tag » life

Moving Rocks

Rock

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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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.


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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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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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.

Surfing
BearingWitness

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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Report: This Year’s Watershed Poetry Festival

Watersheds

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.

Watersheds2

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 350.org 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