Tag Archives: wetland poetry

A New Year, A New Challenge: Writing 30 Poems in 30 Days

On January 1st, I joined eight other poets from around the world to write 30 poems in 30 days of January as part of Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Challenge. The challenge is twofold: 1) it pushes the poets to write a poem each day for a month, marathon-style, and 2) it engages readers of poetry (and those newish to poetry) in a variety of styles and voices–with the goal of prompting readers to support the literary wonder, Tupelo Press, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in California. Readers can support the poets, including me, by doing one of two things: 1) donate to Tupelo Press or 2) subscribe to one of its fine publications. There is a whole catalog of poetry journals. Think of it like community-supported agriculture since poetry is organic–grown from the fruits of our labors.

I am posting my portion of the 30/30 challenge poems on my Adventures of Fen Fatale blog here. Please check out the fine work of my fellow 30/30 poets at the Tupelo Press blog here. To make a donation to the Tupelo Press, click here. Thank you for supporting me in this unique challenge. I am sure to write a number of wetland-inspired poems this month!

Marsh is the New Muse

“When I would recreate myself,
I would seek the darkest wood,
The thickest, most impenetrable swamp.
And I would enter them as sacred places,
As Sanctum Sanctorums.”

—Henry David Thoreau

For the past week, I’ve been on a poetry bender. I can’t stop writing poems. Recently I’ve been writing poems using a collage method:  cut up a few magazine articles, select words and short phrases at random and put them together in new ways to make a poem. Even though I didn’t intend to write poems about wetlands, they creep into my writing anyway. Maybe it has something to do with a mental landscape—wetlands are in my head for the long haul. Here’s a sample stanza from one of my recent collage poems:

But I don’t think we’ve lost
Wilderness, snow cover and stream
The pen reflects a natural cycle, stumbles
A full-body far cry minutes flipping
Too busy with their binoculars, a bizarre dream

(full poem at: http://fenfatale.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/hunted-a-mixed-media-collage-poem/)

Several environmental organizations have recognized the value of putting poetry together with wetland education. Kids are not only encouraged to explore their local marshes or bogs, but also to write about them, using poetry to describe their experience. For example, Environmental Concern offers a wetland poetry workshop to middle school students. Poems such as “How to Cook a Roasted Swamp” by Kathleen and “Dreams of a Cattail” by Zach. (Last names aren’t provided on the website.) These poems can be found here:http://www.wetland.org/education_musesamples.htm  In addition, there are national wetland-themed poetry contests, such as River of Words, an annual youth poetry contest. The 2010 River of Words Watershed Art & Poetry Contest just closed national submissions December 1, 2009. http://www.riverofwords.org/  Some states have wetland poetry contests available through their Departments of Environmental Protection.

For adults, poetry can inspire and bring attention to environmentally sensitive topics such as the effects of Katrina. Maine-based poet Jonathan Skinner’s book of poetry entitled, Wetlands includes a poem called, “A Natural History of Levees,” which can be found online (Not Enough Night)http://www.naropa.edu/notenoughnight/fall06/Skinner.html

Poetry can also be another way to discuss wetlands and their value. At the Society of Wetland Scientists joint meeting with Wisconsin Wetlands Association earlier this year (June 2009), there were a couple of poetry workshops in which participants shared their favorite wetland poems. During a similar workshop held by WWA in 2006, participants wrote wetland poems. Some of these are available here:http://www.wisconsinwetlands.org/ParticipantPoems2006.doc