Sunday, 17 of December of 2017

Tag » nature

Report: Watershed Environmental Poetry 2017

By Dennis Fritzinger

This year’s Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival kicked off with a guided walk along Strawberry Creek, the Creek that runs through Cal campus and was the original reason for Cal being sited on this spot.

I got to the meeting spot just past ten, a few minutes late but in time to hear most of what our first stop had to offer. Then hiking around, crossing the creek at one point (no easy task in my sandals), hiking down to look at a pool with urban fish in it, discussing the effort to clean out invasive ivy and Himalayan Blackberry, and chatting with my fellow hikers as we walked along. This went on until it was almost noon, which is when the Watershed Main Event was supposed to start, the Main Event being the rest of the day with featured poets, kid poets, music by the Watershed Band, and so forth. Since it costs to put on this event each year, fundraising buckets were passed around so the audience could contribute.

All this went on for hours as the sun slowly marched across the sky and we heard poet after poet, many of whom were new to me, and I ran up to give them a Warrior Poet card when they got off stage. That way I got to introduce myself to the poets and share the Armed With Visions site with them.

Besides Robert Haas, on the program were Malcolm Margolin, whose classic The Ohlone Way is still in print, Maxine Hong Kingston, author of Woman Warrior, who treated us to a first-time reading of her haiku, Camille Dungy, Kim Shuck, Tongo Eisen-Martin, Alison Luterman, Tess Taylor, Tiffany Higgins and Rafael Jesus Gonzales.. The day had breadth and variety as well as depth, and seemed, when five o’clock rolled around, to end too soon. Sunny but not too hot, the weather was near perfect and we even got a little bit of a cooling breeze.

The kid poets I mentioned were introduced by John Oliver Simon, director of California Poets in the Schools. There were banners, poetry displays, a sound system, and a large canopy with chairs set up to help you avoid the sun. Some didn’t bother with the canopy and just stretched out in the grass.

It’s always a pleasure to hear poetry with a purpose, not just the expressions of ego of its author. The insights of the poets, came from all directions, so I never felt like I was hearing the same thing being repeated over and over. The kid poets were delightful with their enthusiasm and sense of playfulness. California Poets in the Schools is a great program and deserves our support.

I’ll end with a comment by Kenn Fong, who joined me for this once-a-year event:

“I work in convention hospitality, and recently I attended an Artificial Intelligence conference.

One of the keynoters said that when we communicate, we get 55% of the information non-verbally. We get another 35% aurally. The remaining 9% (allowing for fractions above), is from the actual words itself.

This is why events such as Watershed are so important to us. It’s also why, in this modern age of video communication, tech leaders and workers fly thousands of miles to conferences where I work. The experience of seeing someone one on one with whom you have only shared emails or phone or video calls is a powerful one. I’m not a “woo-woo” type of guy, but just being in the same space with someone has some sort of intangible but real value.

So much of my time is spent with individuals who display no use for (and probably have no experience with) contemplative matters. That it’s important for me to nurture that side of me at least once a year.”


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Report: Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival is Alive and Well

strawberrycreek
This year’s Watershed had great weather — warm sun, cool wind. The featured poets were awesome, especially Jane Hirshfield, who really rocked.

That said, my favorite part was the Creek Walk along Strawberry Creek starting at 10 AM. We got a great presentation by Tim Pine, campus biologist and eco ninja. I learned a lot. We also heard great poems by the Creek Walk poets. Their billing wasn’t as high on the announcement, but the poems they read were totally in tune with the spirit of the day: Stand Up For The Earth.

During the program later several poets gave a shout-out to the Standing Rock People opposing the Pipeline and that was great. Whoever you are, wherever you are, stand up for the Earth!
 
 
hass

event


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Paul Kingsnorth – How Land Feels

“…as we reached the top of the ridge, a break in the trees opened up and we saw miles of unbroken green mountains rolling away before us to the horizon. It was a breathtaking sight. As I watched, our four guides lined up along the ridge and, facing the mountains, they sang. They sang a song to the forest whose words I didn’t understand, but whose meaning was clear enough. It was a song of thanks; of belonging.

Papua

To the Lani, I learned later, the forest lived. This was no metaphor. The place itself, in which their people had lived for millennia, was not an inanimate “environment”, a mere backdrop for human activity. It was part of that activity. It was a great being, and to live as part of it was to be in a constant exchange with it. And so they sang to it; sometimes, it sang back.

When European minds experience this kind of thing, they are never quite sure what to do with it. It’s been so long since we had a sense that we dwelled in a living landscape that we don’t have the words to frame what we see. Too often, we go in one of two directions, either sentimentalising the experience or dismissing it as superstition.”

Read the entire article here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jul/23/paul-kingsnorth-imagine-how-land-feels


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Update From Warriorpoet Ambassador Joey Racano

Joey Racano

Sunset Prayer Ceremony at Thank You Whales two years ago

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


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

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

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

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

oceanoutfallgroup.com
earthsourcemedia.org
www.joeysingstheblues.com

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

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


Meet Our Facebook Page Poet, Sid Bridges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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Download Your 2015 Warrior Poet Poster


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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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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_OareFrom Legacy.com

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: www.legacy.com. 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.