Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Called! A Women's Congress for Future Generations

                 A Women’s Congress for Future Generations
      Moab, Utah  September 26th-30th

     When I was still teaching college I was usually unwilling to go to conferences or congresses. I’m rather introverted outside of the classroom and poetry readings, and I am a bit anxious about large groups and runaway egos, but the women on the steering committee of this Congress are such competent, committed, developed souls, that my fears are alleviated by the humanistic rules of conduct they have asked us to agree to.

And I am called to A Women’s Congress for Future Generations

      What is the Congress about? “At the Moab Congress, we will map possibilities and pathways toward achieving whole health and justice in this generation to come. Inspired by our environmental foremothers, our hope is to craft a dynamic articulation of the pressing rights future generations have to a livable world and the responsibilities of present generations to uphold those rights. Our labors will yield a living affirmation of these rights and responsibilities in word, art, music and story." (from website)                                             

And I am called to this action, this involvement, these tasks.
      I have written poems, letters, essays to our grandchildren bemoaning the fact that my possibility-filled world may not be theirs - and I have lamented that my generation has failed in providing them a safe, sane, sustainable future. 

I am called to A Women’s Congress for Future Generations on behalf of our own lovelies, and the children yet unborn.

       Among other things, I taught environmental ethics for years. 
I have been an activist  most of my life. My solace and pleasure comes from what Gaia provides me in my garden and in the wild. 
I have spoken to trees on four continents. I have cried for the elephants, visited the tigers, and laughed with giraffes. I cannot bear it that future generations may only know these magnificent creatures from books and photos - and I have dreamed that I must name all the animals of the sixth extinction.

And the animals, the trees, the mountains and the seas 
call me to A Women’s Congress for Future Generations.

      I am a poet, and I am working on The Book of Now, an anthology of seven women poets who write for the time of rising waters. On her website, the poet Annie Finch writes:
   “The poetess uses poetry to do the work of a witch, calling up 

  and shaping energies to heal and transform society. The poetess,
 in other words, is a witch and a poet in one.”

I am called as a poet and a witch, willing to shape energies and heal and transform society, to A Women’s Congress for Future Generations.

Here is a poem written for The Book of Now, after I was invited to the Congress. Perhaps I will share it there also.

               Praise Song

I want to sing the life of the earth
an egg    a nest   a hive   the herd
uncountable wings in the wet forest  
microbes thriving in the heat of a geyser
the unknown swimming the canyons of the sea
what the cat scans as she stalks the savannah 
what the hunter sees as he moves through the veldt 
the invisible in a bead of water

I want to sing the profusion of peoples
Camel-riding desert Tuareg draped in blue  
Balinese balancing edible towers
The last Hadza drilling fire
Inuit curving snow blocks into dome
     the stunning variety of indigenous homes
         the bo-sa  a house of bamboo    adobe   hogan   igloo
I want to sing the children on their way to the temple
          mosque    pagoda    kiva   jinja 

          I want tribes to sing
              before they’re unspoken
                    I want us to sing for the sake of sound
                          birdsong  croak and cricket-creak 
                 Praise  all I have named 
                       this  relic 
I am called to A Woman’s Congress for Future Generations to speak for the relic, the residue, the remnant, the remainder


Monday, July 9, 2012


          I am hungry today. Every few years I have a medical procedure that means clear liquids for a couple of days in preparation, and today is one of those days. I am so aware of how rarely I am truly hungry - the cupboard and the fridge are filled with things I like to eat. Since it is summer there are bowls of plums and cherries and peaches and apricots. A small watermelon sits on the counter, and its rippled rind reminds me of fabrics I’ve seen in Africa. If I leave the house I have a protein bar or two in my purse, and unless we are hiking The Mountain or the paths of Pt. Reyes there is always food nearby - or a couple of backpacks filled with trail faves. 

       Michelle Obama has rightly focused on child obesity, with its attendant danger of type 2 diabetes, plus heart disease likely in the future. When Bill & I travel through the West we leave the farm-to-kitchen food culture of the Bay Area, and we have to rely on what we bring and whatever restaurants we find - and we are always astonished by the proportions people are served.

      But is anyone besides a few large organizations still concerned about hunger in America? The War on Poverty is simply a lost phrase from the Sixties. What summer means in some communities in this country is not bowls of ripe fruit and fresh vegetables from farmer’s markets, but no school lunches. 22 million children are estimated to be in “food insecure” households in the United States. 
       When climate change results in freakish weather in many parts of the country - abnormally high winds, flooding, hurricanes, wildfire - there is a sudden desperate need for food and shelter, and Food Banks provide it.  There is no problem obtaining it - there’s 200 billion pounds of food that go to waste every year in America! We have all the food necessary to feed our hungry, it is just a matter of access, equity, and distribution.  Equity? Ha! A House Agricultural Committee just came up with a Farm Bill that would cut 16 billion dollars from Food Stamp allocations over the next decade, which impacts 43 million people. 
This is a recent photo though it looks like a Dorothea Lange portrait from the 1930s

 Just think. We’ve gone from a War on Poverty to a war on the poor - and I thought it was just women who were being targeted!