Friday, August 18, 2023

toot tooting and the #sEEleychallenge

Greetings, Poetry Lovers! It's the 3rd Friday of the month and time for a climate-focused post; luckily there's a gigantic piece of good news to celebrate. As I hope you know, on Monday, a Montana District Court Judge Kathy Seeley ruled in favor of the youth plaintiffs in Held v Montana, ruling that the State of Montana’s failure to consider greenhouse gas emissions from energy and mining projects violates the state constitution because it does not protect Montanans’ right to a clean and healthful environment and the state’s natural resources from unreasonable depletion.

This is the first case challenging state and national climate and energy policies to make it to trial in the U.S., and is now the first in which the plaintiffs, 16 Montana youth now ages 5 to 22, are VICTORIOUS.  If you've heard of the #SealeyChallenge in which we all read poetry all August, you'll see why I'm hoping a SEELEY Challenge 😁 will take off , and that other groups in other states will see success in other lawsuits that challenge policies that damage the climate futures of our young people. For more information visit the Flathead Beacon's ongoing coverage site, and especially take time to read once again about the young woman climate activist, Rikki Held, who as the only plaintiff of age at the time the case was filed, gives her name to this landmark decision. (Isn't it right that our Earth should be held with care?  And also that "Held" is the word for HERO in German?) Then go give some money to the Beacon, to Our Children’s Trust, or to another journalism or legal organization that supports climate rescue.

Poetry itself can be leveraged in the effort, of course, and I'm happy to say that I'm doing my part!  Although I'm not in the class of poets famous enough to be featured on this poster, I do have a poem in the forthcoming anthology DEAR HUMAN AT THE EDGE OF TIME: Poems on Climate Change in the US, edited by Luisa Igloria, Aileen Cassinetto and Dr. Jeremy Hoffman.  I'm certainly enjoying the company I'm in! Join us for the virtual launch next week!

click to buy from an indie bookstore

And while I'm tooting, I'm very late to announce with pride that I have two poems in the anthology of Metaphor Dice poems, POETRY BY CHANCE, which launched in July!  You heard about it from plenty of other Poetry Friday friends, and I just let the date go by unmarked.  My poems are titled "Loss," and "You have to".

click to buy from an indie bookstore

Our host today is dear Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone, where she offers up a "haphazard combination of perennials, wildflowers, and weeds." Delightful!

Friday, August 4, 2023

urtica dioica

Salutations to you all from the south of England!  We are here with the (grown-up) kids visiting that side of the family, and to make up for last July when it rained one single time and was as warm and sunny as you could ever hope Blighty to be, this time we are layering and wrapping and taking our macs with us wherever we go.

Yesterday, however, there was a fine spell between 8 and 3 and we took our opportunity to get outside--more on that shortly. While INSIDE on Wednesday I spent quite a bit of time with Rebecca Brock's first chapbook, published last year.  She's a poet some of you may know if you have participated in any of Laura Shovan's February Poem Projects.

EACH BEARING OUT is the title, and I'm going to share one poem that answers our Inklings First Friday Challenge this month, set by Catherine Flynn:

Robin Wall Kimmerer teaches us that “It's a sign of respect and connection to learn the name of someone else, a sign of disrespect to ignore it…Learning the names of plants and animals is a powerful act of support for them. When we learn their names and their gifts, it opens the door to reciprocity.” Look closely at the flowers, birds, trees, or other natural features in your neighborhood (or if you’re traveling, a new-to-you species) and write a poem about your chosen species. Free choice of format.

Imperial Moth Caterpillar | Rebecca Brock

Pale green and long as a cattail,
the caterpillar had a face
like a ladybug's shell
except yellow, spotless.

They push a stick into the dirt,
to mark the spot, before racing
their bikes back to find me
coming slowers, on foot, with the dog.

Brothers, they call out
to each other, call out to me,
their cheeks red and legs pedaling--
the dog pulls at his leash to greet them.

To love something is not the same
as naming it but they know the names
of things matter and I am grateful to be asked
something for which there is an answer.

They hover and the dog jumps
and tugs as I try to stay still
enough to type caterpillar, late summer, 
yellow face---to find the before, the during,
even the remarkable after: a flying creature,
pale yellow with brown spots, dusky
and ready to mate by midnight.

I'm still learning how to trust
a creature with its own life---
but they already know to kneel,
even to marvel,
at the body
into what had seemed
such solid ground.


Children DO know that the names of things matter, and they are born to be collectors of those names, of distinguishing features, of species knowledge, if we honor that survival instinct and let them.  We all know kids who have catalogs of dinosaurs or construction vehicles, horses or Hatchimals--but how many do you know that can name a dozen culinary herbs? More than three kinds of birds? More than one species of butterfly? I don't think we give our children nearly enough opportunity to learn their natural surroundings the way kids 200 years ago would have HAD to, just to eat.

So, back to yesterday's fine day.  We went blackberrying on the South Downs, near Hope Gap at the Cuckmere River that feeds into the English Channel.  There were lots of blackberry bushes, of course:

and, we quickly discovered, lots of stinging nettles growing in among and in front of the blackberries:

Looking closely, there's a clear difference between the leaves, but for the uninitiated, those leaves with their "serrated margins" are pretty similar. I had finally put on some SHORTS and sacrificed both knees and forearms for the bounty of berries that I collected.  Things went much better for my tall son with the long arms, who could reach the berries without wading into the Urtica dioica, and no one seemed to suffer the intensity of histamine reaction as much as I did--instead of 15 minutes of sting and burn I had hours, followed by a gritty, sandy tingling like your foot waking up after you've sat on it too long. (I'm pain-free this morning, you'll be glad to know.)

So have I learned an awful lot about stinging nettles?  Yes!  Do I have a poem?  No!  Not yet.  But maybe by the time you click this link, some 5 hours anon, I will.  I have no doubt that my fellow Inklings will give you plenty to noodle on in the meantime. Thanks to Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading for hosting us today with a goldfinch poem and bonus stitchery! May the Earth love us all back, despite ourselves.