Thursday, 23 of November of 2017

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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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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.