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.
Norman Molesko is LA’s own “young oldie” poet. He’s an ambassador for seniors, and he’s currently working his second-half-of-life-career in the Senior-Advocacy-Through-Poetry-Program (SATPP), in partnership with the Los Angeles Poet Society.
True to form, Molesko read his poetry at the 2015 LitCrawl in Los Angeles at the NoHo Red Line Metro stop. Think you can keep up with this guy? Go ahead, give it a try!
The Los Angeles Poet Society was out in force at the 2015 LitCrawl in Los Angeles. They read and recited their poetry at the North Hollywood red line Metro station. GuerrillaReads caught Juan Cardenas on camera while we were there.
Cardenas is a poet, drummer and classically trained flautist, as well as a bilingual educator with California Poets in the Schools. He was born in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico, crossed the desert with his family at the young age of 10, and was raised in the north San Fernando Valley. Here he reads a poem about his first-hand experiences, Border Truth Number 170.
Look for guerrilla readings from three more LAPS poets at the LitCrawl – coming soon!
Ifalade TaShia Asanti is a poet, performer and seer. In her poem, Sistah I Sing For You, she writes
i drum at sunrise for the common ancestors that walk with us
for the garbage in our oceans
wombs of broken glass
trust crushed in seas of betrayal
GuerrillaReads caught up with Asanti at LA’s first ever Blk Grrrl Book Fair where she did a guerrilla reading of her poem The Oracle. Learn more about her on her website.
Poet Jessica Wilson is part of Soap Box Poetry. They take poetry to the Venice Beach Boardwalk every month. Watch her read one poem and build another off the cuff.
Click here if you don’t see the embedded video above.
All poets are welcome at Soap Box Poetry. Look for them near the Sidewalk Cafe on Sundays. Or see them on YouTube.
Happy National Poetry Month!