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.
Lynn Harris Ballen is perhaps best known as a senior producer and co-host on KPFK radio’s fearless Feminist Magazine. She’s also an important player in the LGBTQ literary scene in southern California.
Ballen grew up in South Africa during the apartheid era. Her family’s role in the struggle for majority rule in that country is at the center of the memoir she is currently writing. In this guerrilla reading, Ballen gives us a tantalizing preview of the story she will tell.
And with that, GuerrillaReads turns 100 today! I’ll admit, we’re kinda proud to still be alive and kicking.
You can find poet Federico Villalobos-Zambranou at TheOxfordSemicolon.
You can also find him here on the GuerrillaReads Lambda LitFest Video Walk. We stepped across the street from the corner where A Different Light bookstore once stood, and shot his guerrilla reading in front of Rough Trade leather shop.
Tatiana de la Tierra was a force to be reckoned with. She was a bilingual, bicultural writer who focused on identity, sexuality, and South American memory and reality in her work. She also established the first international Latina lesbian magazine Esto no tiene nombre.
De la Tierra passed away in 2012, but her work and her spirit live on. Here, three poets who were friends of hers – Olga García Echeverría, Persephone Gonzalez and Cat Uribe – pay tribute to De la Tierra by reading two of her poems. Hang on tight for the ride!
Did you see us on the corner with our tiny video camera and big literature? A group of iconoclastic local writers showed up for the GuerrillaReads video walk at the first (annual?) Lambda LitFest on March 12. We met at the corner in Silver Lake where A Different Light once stood. More than a bookstore, A Different Light was a an LGBTQ community center and a safe space at a time when being out was dangerous. It was also the place where, guerrilla reader Lynn Harris Ballen told us, author and troublemaker Jeanne Córdova (aka GuerrillaReads No. 52) proposed to her. We read our works on the corner, paying tribute to everything A Different Light once stood for.
This week GuerrillaReads will post the work of one video walk participant each day. You’ll see
To kick things off, I’d like to introduce you to A Different Light, with this guerrilla reading.