Poetry: A Riff Off The River

Slumber Along

A friend – Willeena – has been sharing some lovely poems on X, tagging it with the #writeout hashtag (she and I and others are part of the team planning Write Out 2023 in October). Her poems are situated in nature, and she has been adding short videos, too, of where she is getting her inspiration. A poem she wrote yesterday inspired this poem of mine.

She wrote, as part of her poem:

Help them move
past the mirk and mire …

— Willeena Booker

I took that idea and wrote my way forward.

Summer rains stretch
fingers into the bottoms
of the riverbed,

a weathered troublemaker
stirring up what’s long been
settled in

With eyes closed, then,
we slumber along
through cloudy waters,
dreaming of currents
and clarity

Then stuck feet find
a footing, and a hand
reaches from the shore –

Once more, your presence
provides ballast
in an otherwise
unbalanced world

Peace (and poems),

Graphic Novel Review: The National Parks (Preserving America’s Wild Places)

History Comics: The National Parks cover

Now here’s a perfect book for the annual Write Out celebration of National Parks and public spaces that takes place each October. The National Parks (Preserving America’s Wild Places) by Failynn Koch is part of a series of “History Comics” by the First Second Publishing company, and this deep look at the formation of the National Park system is fantastic, fun, informative and provocative.

In this fast-paced historical tour of how the National Park System came to be, Koch does not turn her attention away from controversial elements of the park system’s history that includes the taking of land from Native American tribes through force and manipulation, the racism that encountered the “Buffalo Soldiers” who acted as the first protection force of public lands following the Civil War, and the much-too-slow rise of women leaders in the organization, mostly due to gender disparities build into the institutions of government. In many books in the past about the National Parks, these issues are either left out of the official narrative or brushed over. Here, Koch gives these topics ample room.

The book also explores the impact of many important historical characters, like John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, Marjorie Stoneham Douglas, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and many others who saw that only through activism and outreach could the general public really see the value of a system like the National Parks. And even those who are often celebrated (rightly) for their advocacy are giving nuances (such as Teddy Roosevelt’s inclination to still want to hunt animals on public lands and ignoring the interconnected lives of the forests themselves).

Koch spends ample time, too, on the debate that has long taken place between those who advocate Preservation (protecting lands from any significant human activity) and Conservation (allowing some operations to take place, such as logging, while protecting the space). We still see this taking place today, particularly when it comes to introducing animals like the wolf back into park lands or in fire reduction strategies.

In the end, this graphic history provides a rich insight into one of our country’s treasures: the complicated system of public spaces that are the National Park Service system. In the Write Out project (a free program which takes place each year in the Fall), we explore some of these issues through activities and collaborations, but this book would be a nice text to any classroom library (ideally, given the text complexity here, upper elementary to high school readers). Boy, I know I sure would love to have a class set of this book for our classroom work in Write Out.

(via Macmillan Publishing site)

Peace (and Parks),

After The Rains: Fungi

I was walking around the block yesterday and noticed all of the mushroom and fungi popping up on people’s lawns. We’ve had a ton of rain, so this is not all that surprising, but it is pretty cool how many different looking fungi there are, depending on soil and plant life.

Peace (and Observation),

On Juneteenth: A Focus On ‘Black Rosies’


Rosie, the riveter as a black woman poster.

D. Elisabeth Glassco shared an entire thread on Mastodon the other day about ‘Black Rosies’ — the nearly forgotten members of the Rosie The Riveter generation of women who helped with war efforts at home during WW2. Efforts in recent years have worked to raise the profile of these woman.

Among these unsung heroes were over half a million “Black Rosies” who toiled in shipyards, factories, offices, and various other sectors to combat both foreign authoritarianism and the entrenched enemy of racism on the home front. Sadly, their immense contributions went largely unacknowledged for decades. — Glassco

But, unfortunately, many of these women worked in conditions and environments that were laced with prejudice and inequality, and for a long time, the iconic image of Rosie The Riveter was a white woman. Remembering the contributions of ‘Black Rosies’ is important as part of expanding the story narrative of our country’s wartimes history and I was intrigued by the insights and resources that Glassco shared (and I thanked her on Mastodon).

Black Rosies not only played a vital role in the war effort but also sought economic empowerment. For many Black American women, becoming a Rosie offered an escape from dead-end domestic and sharecropping jobs, aligning with the ongoing Great Migration. The war provided them with an unprecedented opportunity to earn money and shape a better future. — Glassco

Glassco’s posting caught my attention — not just for Juneteenth — but also because some of the work I have done with the Springfield Armory National Historic Museum and with Write Out (a National Writing Project/National Park Service partnership) has touched on and used the Rosie The Riveter story, with both other educators in Professional Development and with middle school students in summer programs that we have run at the Armory itself.

There is a Rosie The Riveter WW2 Home Front National Park in California. In particular, the life and story of Park Ranger Betty Reid Soskin has received a lot of attention, as it should.

I don’t particularly remember ever coming across this many resources (see list below) related to Black women who were also considered ‘Rosies’, but I wish we had had more in our Armory programming, particularly when working on historical inquiry with young people. Seeing themselves in the primary historical documents of the Springfield Armory has always been one of our program goals. We work hard to diversify the resources, to expand the stories, to make sure place and culture are central to the inquiries.

So, here’s further appreciation to D. Elisabeth Glassco for giving us more resources and ideas to think about for any future programming and for teaching me something on Juneteenth.

Peace (Making Progress),

PS — here is Glassco’s curated list of sites and videos:










Write Out: Not Just A Tourist Passing Through (Tom Wessels)

Tom Wessels Quote

As we come to an end of Write Out 2022, I am still thinking on different texts about the natural world in light of the many outdoor activities we did during the two weeks of the project. In the NWPStudio space, a shared article some weeks back led to a mention of Tom Wessel’s Reading The Forested Landscape (A Natural History of New England), which I then borrowed from the library.

I scanned and read Wessel, and slowed down at times to think deeper, and I discovered lots of interesting tidbits about how to “read” a forest (and in New England, where I live, in particular). This ending passage from Wessel seemed like it had a resonance about understanding the lands around us, so I pulled the quote out.

Peace (and landscapes),

Write Out Collaborative Poems

A Daily Create for DS106 and for Write Out the other day invited people to add a “small poem” to a collaborative slideshow, with a nature theme. This video gathers them together.

Peace (and poems),

Write Out: Poems From Listening To A Landscape

Listening to the Landcape poems

As Write Out 2022 wraps up this weekend, I am revisiting a piece of music I composed and shared right before the start of the two week inquiry into place. The piece of music — A Quiet Walk In Four Paths: Listening To A Landscape — was inspired by a piece of writing by my NWP friend Bryan C. (read more).

Days later, I was listening again, and realized that each path or movement or section could inspiration for a small poem, so I set about over the course of a few days of Write Out to write the poems, and then gathered them together into another music video, where each poem is layered on each path/section of the composition.

Peace (walking the world),

Write Out At Spar: Making Notebooks, Seed Bombs and More

We held a live event for Write Out yesterday afternoon on the grounds of the Springfield Armory National Historic Site. Participants made science journals with stick bindings, formed Seed Bombs and launched them into a pollination area, and measured and gathered data on temperature differences for an inquiry into Urban Tree Canopies.

Peace (tossing it),