Slice of Life: Poems for Planet Earth

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

A few weeks ago, I noticed a “call for artists” through our local public library, for an exhibit they were pulling together about healing, health and the state of our planet. They were seeking videos, art and writing. Intrigued, I decided to try my hand at some poems — five short poems — with environmental themes, and I sent them in, and then I forgot all about it (as I am apt to do).

The other day, I found out that the library art gallery had accepted three of the five poems I sent in for its “In This Together: Virtual Exhibit on Planetary and Human Health” display. I feel honored to be among the 41 local artists (some of the other pieces in the collection are really amazing to look at — particularly the visual artworks).

This is from the gallery description:

As we emerge slowly from the Covid-19 pandemic, we reflect on how it has changed us, the environment we live in, and our outlook. While our societies and our world are still in the midst of enormous changes, how do we feel about our role? How has the past year impacted how we relate to the environment and to each other? Have our priorities changed?

abstract photo by Faith Kaufmann

via Hosmer Gallery, Northampton, MA

My three poems can be found here, here and here.

As a poet writing daily throughout the Pandemic, I noticed the act of writing has often been rather lonely. (Maybe that always is the case for poets, but the isolation of the lockdowns seemed to make it even more so). I like the idea of a few of my words being part of a local community collective effort to think on the changing Earth, and how the Pandemic is influencing that thinking, that wonder, that warning. To see my words mingled in with other media and art feels right, and satisfying.

I’m not naive. I don’t think poems or poets can change the world. A few verses won’t change policy. Stanzas don’t scale up.

But writing poems can change the poet who writes those poems, I believe, and the time I spent composing the five pieces gave me a chance to sit with the ideas, to mull things over, and try to capture some thoughts that will help me in my own small actions, each day. There were threads across the five pieces that I know are there, threads I made visible to myself that connect to how I can and should view this world we are caretakers of.

What more can a writer do?

Peace (in poems and planets),

  1. Oh, I love these poems! The little girl in poem three reminded me of a younger me- I was always turning over rocks and logs to see the worlds underneath. Your second poem, Were We Not Warned? really packs a punch- indeed it does feel like we have been warned over and over…

  2. Kevin – first, congratulations on your poetry’s inclusion in that important collection of a fragile place – I read all three and am awed by how much power and reflection you pack in your imagery, in so few words. “Reclamation” was my one little word a couple of years ago. How true that poems, poets, verse, stanzas can’t change the world or policy in and of themselves BUT that change begins with in the poet, grappling with and grasping ideas. Being able to communicate them freely and clearly is a step toward reclamation, a step toward the understanding that our story is a shared one, and that every action impacts the health and healing of all, including our blue planet itself.

  3. Congratulations, Kevin. It really is an honor to have our words mingle w/ others’ art, displayed where they’ll find an audience. I totally agree w/ your analysis of how writing poetry impacts the poet. My poems help me organize my life and reflect on it.

  4. Kevin, beautiful! Thank you for sharing your poems, and I can understand how having your poems mingling with others in your community would be a satisfying feeling.

    The little girl…
    “a curator of extinction
    with an innocent’s grace”

    And the poem about how we aren’t listening is terrifying and powerful. Thank you for sharing and being changed: “But writing poems can change the poet who writes those poems” Yes, indeed!

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