Category Archives: poetry

Returning to the World

I have been mostly away from the networked world since late March, visiting with family, then completely disconnecting for a few days last week at Fairy Stone State Park in Stuart, Virginia. I did not make any particular commitment to this disconnect but without having to monitor work or students, I found it came naturally when I was with my family in Pennsylvania, preferring to be with them in the moment without the distraction of social media and news feeds.

Once we got to Fairy Stone, it was nature itself that imposed the disconnect. Internet at the park was almost nonexistent: they suggested one particular spot where you might be able to get to access but I did not feel compelled to seek it out. Meanwhile, my phone just displayed SOS instead of bars. I’m not sure if that’s because I could still get emergency access or because the phone was in crisis mode without it and wanted to let me know.

My husband and I both found the quiet liberating and restful. We rocked on the porch of our log cabin, reading, chatting and meditating on the spectacular scenery. We explored the area and I will have some stories to tell about those explorations in later posts. Here are two pictures of the cabin (one of eight in the park that were built by CCC workers in the 1930s) and the view from our porch.

We returned home to lots of gardening so my technological disconnect continued until this past Monday when, after nearly three weeks, I opened the lid of my laptop and reconnected to the larger world, digging into a database project and meeting online with a colleague. My phone and iPad had been sufficient for use during the travels, mostly using them for reading and picture taking and game play. (I do like a bit of Wordle.)

I know my life is very different from that of others now that I am mostly retired and that makes disconnecting much easier. But, I can highly recommend trying find at least a little respite from the constant connectivity. It helped me focus my intentions upon my return related to how I wanted to spend my time and treasure in the next few months. I even generated a few blog post ideas.

During our explorations of Patrick County, we might have been living in a pre-Internet era: at some points, I was navigating using a paper map! (Yes, they still make them.) When I picked one up at the Brunswick County Visitor Center, it was from a feeling of nostalgia. But when I couldn’t get to Google Maps on my phone at some points, the map became a necessary part of our travel toolkit. It is now tucked in the passenger side pocket of the Kia, ready for our next escape.

One of my last blog posts before disconnecting was about World Poetry Day. We are now well into National Poetry Month and I want to go back to Wendell Berry as his poem “The Peace of Wild Things” was very much with me and, as the world seems to spin out of control more chaotically every day, the words continue to echo in my mind: “When despair for the world grows in me…I come into the peace of wild things.”

Here is Berry reading the poem:

World Poetry Day

From UNESCO’s website:

UNESCO first adopted 21 March as World Poetry Day during its 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999, with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard. World Poetry Day is the occasion to honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry, foster the convergence between poetry and other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and raise the visibility of poetry in the media. As poetry continues to bring people together across continents, all are invited to join in.

World poetry day website

Two of my favorite poets are Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver. They share a reverence for nature that resonates with me.

Bill Moyers interviewed Berry in 2013.

Two of my favorite poems show his range of voice: “The Peace of Wild Things” and “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.”

Mary Oliver also connects nature and spirituality. Two favorites: Wild Geese and, since we are also celebrating the Spring Equinox, Spring.

Black History from Mr. Crim

I haven’t much felt like writing lately: everything I think about writing seems frivolous in light of the horrific murder of Tyre Nichols and multiple mass shootings in January. Meanwhile, governors like Glenn Youngkin here in Virginia and Ron DeSantis in Florida are using their power to literally whitewash history.

So, I’m going to highlight a black historian I wrote about earlier, Mr. Ernest Crim III. He focuses on what matters, digs out that history that Youngkin and his ilk want to bury, and also finds bright spots in the world like the new poet laureate of New York, nine-year-old Kayden Hern.

@mrcrim3

You KNOW your timeline needs this to balance your exposure to trauma, so enjoy this story. 🙏🏾 There are three things I love most about this story. Firstly, the way Kayden’s grandma handled his curiosity. Secondly, how Kayden responded by actively engaging in poetry. Thirdly, I love how Governor Hochul reached out to him and kept her word. 💯 Who knows Kayden’s family? I wanna send him some books! 🤔 🚨Check my bio to order my NEW children’s book and for educational resources (like my autobiography, K-5 course, speaking engagement info, petitions, reading recommendations, etc.) and consider becoming a Patron or IG Subscriber to support my advocacy and content. 🙏🏾 #blackhistory #racism #ushistory #history #worldhistory #americanhistory #whiteally #africanamerican #childrensbooks #author #blackauthors #publicspeaker #blackhistorymonth #poet #newyork #georgefloyd #educationalequity #blacktiktok #whiteallies #fyp

♬ original sound – Ernest Crim III

Happy Spring!

Silo SunsetThe signs of Spring have been around for at least a month or more if you knew what you were looking for: goldfinches starting to show color, daffodils and snowdrops emerging from dried leaves, bird songs piercing the chilly mornings. And now, Spring is officially here. Margaret Sisler introduced me to the concept of forest bathing:

While our patch of trees around the old silo at the back of the property probably don’t count as forest, they are our bit of woodsy wilderness. With the exception of cutting a few walking paths, we let it be, and it provides cover for critters including our very own MyrtleMyrtle the Turtle that we usually see once or  twice a year. For me, it provides a peaceful retreat. The dogs and I walk there almost every day and yet it never gets dull. Nature works through her cycles around us.

I think, for me, the biggest lesson during this transition has been that idea of looking deeply at familiar landscapes. It’s easy to see the daffodils with their flashy yellow blossoms, but they have been there to be seen and enjoyed for much longer, as we marvel at their strength, pushing up through soil and leaves and mulch. I am always reminded of Dylan Thomas’ poem, The force that drives the green shoot through the flower.