I took a short hop out to Ojai, CA for a poetry festival put on by Mister Jimfest, featuring Sandra Alcossar, Maria Melendez, Sherman Alexie and Gary Snyder. And the damn stuff has a way of taking my head out of the news and into bigger spheres, like the natural world and geological time.
I can't do this justice now, behind on everything else, so let me quote Jimfest himself on the chosen poets, specifically, Gary Snyder.
“When we first cooked up this idea of a poetry festival in Ojai six years ago,” says organizer Jim Lenfestey, “the first theme that occurred to us was this idea of poetry as the voice of the earth, but we couldn't go that route without Gary Snyder. He is the touchstone for that theme and our first choice, although he wasn't available in the past. We have a responsibility to listen to and speak for those who are voiceless, and I don't just mean humans in places like Darfur, but also the plants and the trees and all that supports us. Our poets have a special ability to listen and hear and turn what they hear into words that humans can understand.”
That they do, and did. The festival, held out doors at the Libbey bowl, closed Saturday night with this old Snyder poem, the final pledge joyfully recited by all. Yeah, under the Live Oaks with a crescent moon and a flirty Venus dangling above, and spring peepers all around.
Ah to be alive
on a mid-September morn
fording a stream
barefoot, pants rolled up,
holding boots, pack on,
sunshine, ice in the shallows,
Rustle and shimmer of icy creek waters
stones turn underfoot, small and hard as toes
cold nose dripping
creek music, heart music,
smell of sun on gravel.
I pledge allegiance
I pledge allegiance to the soil
of Turtle Island,
and to the beings who thereon dwell
under the sun
With joyful interpenetration for all.