Day has published ten poetry collections and chapbooks. She is also coeditor of Red Indian Road West: Native American Poetry from California and the author of two children’s books and a memoir, Married at Fourteen: A True Story. Her writing has appeared widely in magazines and anthologies, and her many honors include the Joseph Henry Jackson Award in Literature, the Blue Light Poetry Prize, two PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Awards, and nine Pushcart nominations. Day is also the founder of Scarlet Tanager Books, publisher of Fire and Rain. All profits from sales of the book will be donated to environmental organizations.
Poet, songwriter, and environmentalist Kirk Lumpkin recently retired and now lives with his wife on 80 acres of undeveloped land in Mendocino County in Northern California. After two years of managing their land for forest health, wildlife diversity, and to reduce the possibility of a catastrophic wildfire, he realized he needed to get a better attitude toward poison oak, because he was spending a lot of time with it. So he started with Kate Marianchild’s book Secrets of the Oak Woodland which he quotes from in the introduction to the poem.
Now he’s a State Certified Naturalist and writing poetry about the itchy vine. For this guerrilla reading he stands in front of a crawling expanse of the stuff in its lovely red phase.
Lumpkin’s poem, “To Poison Oak,” appears in Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, edited by Lucille Lang Day and Ruth Nolan. [Full disclosure: two of my poems appear in the anthology.] If you want to learn more about California’s environment and humans’ complicated relationship with it, poets are a great place to start.
In fact, poison oak is an excellent place to begin.
In her article at The Atlantic, Taking Literature to the Streets, Katharine Schwab profiles a number of terrific ventures around the world that take literature out of bookstores and libraries and, well, into the streets. GuerrillaReads was included