Among the varied (and rather eccentric) reasons I retain a post office box in Mendocino county is this: I get to participate in a county-wide community of poets. For over ten years I have shared readings and writings with this community in art galleries, museums, libraries, conference rooms, and on air. Our community is largely skinny and grey-haired, tending more towards passionate than tepid, and entirely idiosyncratic.
And it’s that time of year: the season when the poets of Mendocino county emerge from [relative] obscurity and come together to share our best work in an annual marathon reading known as the Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration.
Alas, with the latest variants, surges, and positivity rates of the Covid-19 pandemic circulating through our communities, this formerly in-person event has once again gone digital and online. (Rather than gathering together in an upstairs room facing the ocean, we were instructed to send .mp4 files.)
The poems of 51 poets are being broadcast this month on Dan Robert’s inimitable radio show, Rhythm Running River, (running alternative Sundays from 3-5PM Pacific Time) via the county’s public broadcasting station KZYX&Z. (For several years, when I lived full-time in Mendocino county, I was a DJ on that station, doing a show called “Native Sound” from 10PM-midnight on alternate Tuesday nights.)
Back when I was a university professor, and dared to incorporate poetry into one of the modules in my undergraduate environmental studies/humanities class, my students often erred in thinking that poetry was inaccessible to them, or had to rhyme, or was too hard to write.
Then, with much coaxing and reassurances, they wrote their own. Of course, what they came up with was far more complex and nuanced than they believed themselves capable of writing, and as we read and shared students’ poems, we all got to know each other in ways that would otherwise have never occurred.
This year, this season, while our hearts and souls are pummeled with the idiocy and nihilistic threats of the war on Ukraine; sickened by our national hand-wringing over guns and the ugliness of the January 6th insurrection; scorched by climate-change-induced heatwaves and out-of-control wildfires, I only had the wherewithal to create one poem.
Which you can listen to, or read, below.
Dan’s Rhythm Running River radio show continues to be a tremendous gift. Where else can we access hours of poetry, interspersed with world music, freely?
Subscribe to his newsletter by emailing him on his website and you will receive playlists and files to stream or download every time a new show comes out.