Wednesday, 17 of January of 2018

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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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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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