Earth Day and Poetry Event Recap

guest poets at WVC earth dayPoetry, plants and our planet were all celebrated around the WVC fountain yesterday, with approximately 60 in attendance.  English faculty Derek Sheffield welcomed guest poets and environmental activists Tim McNulty, Holly Hughes and WVC English professor Erin Fristad. Each author shared personal life experiences and compelling portions from  their own published works. 

Congratulations to all the Earth Poetry contest participants, with special recognition to first place winner Zach Eddy and to second place recipient, Gloria Roberson.

Zach Eddy

Zach Eddy

1st place winner of the Earth Poetry contest, with his submission, "Fish Eyes" 

"Fish Eyes"

Clouds wave in geologic time.
Fish eyes never close, or blink.
Over one-hundred years ago
the river here froze in place.
Long before that, basalt flows
engineered the landscape.
Now, we both see the fiery glow
in visions, mine under the spell
of a microscope. You’re convinced
the minerals are out to trick us
like Coyote gathers
salmon when no one here
is looking. Luster is not
allusion, nor farce. Dandelions
make lovely ruins. Can we count
on you to spare heads? They say
the plant I used to toil for
will never fully die, for
fear of its tangled roots 
exposed. Maybe, the toxins and
pollutants radioactively unite
and turn us back into mutants.
Maybe, it only grows bigger fruit
more potent. I once saw a trout 
with its innards splayed by a hawk.
A feral cat cleaned the bones.
I’ve seen eagles in the wild,
bald, big as men, perched
on dumpsters, outside
fish processors,
resolute in the cold.
Will you promise
to meet me there
when it snows?   
Will your eyes
be open
if you do?

Judge's Comments, "Fish Eyes"

“Fish Eyes” is a clear, insightful, and accomplished poem that goes after deep questions and addresses serious ecological concerns.  The images are visual, sharp, a bit unsettling; the language clear and immediate.  Images of geologic deposition, deep time, ruins, and radioactivity evoke a complex landscape that the poet navigates effortlessly with intelligence and wit.  The cross-cultural reference to Coyote the trickster deepens the conversation within the poem.  And the poem closes with two provocative images that give keen insight into humans' uneasy relationship with the natural world.  At the end the poet poses a question and an invitation that moves beyond the poem into the reader's personal response to living in the world.

 One judge called "Fish Eyes" "...a very intriguing poem that I can’t avert my eyes from."  Another wrote " I feel like I’m in the hands of a skilled poet with something to say."  We all agreed that the poet delivered masterfully.

"6:21 a.m. Turmeric Tea at the Kitchen Window"

Spring’s flaming orb floats
up on its mission of mercy.
Forsythia yells from every
corner of the backyard.  

Dew-covered grass and wild violets
entwine like lovers who overslept
and don’t care who sees them.
The sky blushes with first light.

Robins twitter I’m home.  Quail chant
it’s safe here, it’s safe here.  My chickens
dash in the field, squabbling over
walnuts cracked open by winter’s cold.

Gloria Roberson

Gloria Roberson

2nd place winner.

Judge's Comments:

With its rich, sensory language and playful use of personification, “6:21 a.m Turmeric Tea at the Kitchen Window” wakes us up, reminding us to pay attention to the earth changing outside our window.

The title of this delightful poem invites the reader in, giving us a whiff of the sensory riches ahead.  In the first of three quatrains, the poet throws open the metaphorical window to watch spring arrive “on its mission of mercy.”   Using personification, the poet describes earth’s inhabitants  as they wake to a new season:  “Forsythia yells;”   Robins twitter “I’m home; Quail chants “it’s safe here, it’s safe here.”   In the last stanza, chickens introduce a comic note, and we’re reminded what we’ve left behind as the earth keeps turning:  “chickens/ dash in the field, squabbling over/walnuts cracked open by winter’s cold.”     Here’s what the other judges had to say: 

  • “It lives up to the title’s promise directly and with genuine gladness.”
  • “I’m standing right there next to the poet. All my senses engaged, the new day, winter cracked open, spring arriving, all of it entering my every cell.”

Kudos to this poet for taking an everyday ritual—morning tea—and reminding us that poems can be found wherever we look closely and observe carefully with our full imagination; these habits lie at the heart of good writing—and good activism. 

WVC Ag. department Annual Plant Sale

Earth Day Plant saleThe Earth Day event was nicely rounded out with the annual Plant Sale hosted by the WVC Ag department and customers happily carried away boxes of robust garden plants, with anticipation of summer's harvest.




Sustainability Campus Tour

 Earth Day Sustainability signEarth Day at WVC came to a close with 30 participants enjoying a sustainability tour of campus.  Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to this event!