Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nature Poetry - John Burroughs

April is Poetry Month. Go outside and find something that moves you. Describe the images you see. Say why the scene moves you. Connect the two worlds. Don’t think too much, just start jotting thoughts down, like: “Corn stumps molder in the ground. / Birds fly in, pick up remnant seeds / in their beaks. Warm breezes walk / Spring across the field. / The caw of crows call me home.”

That’s not very good, but it’s a start. Then tinker with your words, letting them guide you. Substitute, change, rearrange. Use the sounds you hear in the rustling branches and the singing of the birds. Capture the cadence of running water, and the running of coyotes in the meadows in the rhythm of your words.

Poetry is about observing the world and describing the moments when your perceptions sharpen, insights come, and your life changes direction a little. Nature poets connect people’s emotions with what is going on in the mountains, the rivers, and the forests.

More important than writing is to experience those moments. Even if you don’t intend to write, go outside and pay attention to nature. Make John Burroughs happy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fools Along the Road

John Muir’s birthday is today. He was a fool for believing that the wilderness is our greatest national treasure and that we should do all we can to protect it. Long live fools! Long live the wild places!