Nature and Spirit: Poems in the Redwoods
Creating Poems in the Redwoods was a great galumphing romp in the beautiful Otis R. Johnson Park in Fort Bragg, California. We were greeted with wild bird sounds even in the parking lot. Entering this redwood forest with its filtered light and hints of even greater wilderness behind the towering trunks and thick ferns set the stage for poetry. A stillness entered the soul with the sounds of unseen brooks, insects and animals.
We had already selected the poems. They all come from my latest poetry collection, Heart Strong, Selected Poems 2000-2012, published by Estuary Press, 2013.
The poems share some common threads, a connection to nature and my spiritual quest. These are strong themes in my published poetry. I don’t often read these poems at public readings where I tend to put forward my more social, historical and political works. Something about California’s redwoods seemed an appropriate setting that might add another layer to the words for the viewer. It certainly did for me.
The opening poem, “Cold Day in Spring” speaks to the connections between my psyche, the seasons, the weather and my attachment to the sun. It begins in the shadow of a redwood trunk where sunlight is dappled and fleeting. Redwoods often grow in a circle around a mother tree which, when it dies, leaves a hallow place where it lived as new life grew around it. In this spot the series of poems begins. Birds join in now and again.
The poem “What Says The I-Ching?” speaks to the New Age thought that influenced me beginning in the 1960’s. It is both new and ancient to turn to divination prompts to try to understand oneself. How many have stood there and reflected?
“Indoor/Outdoor” is a narrative poem, a true story that underlines the conflict between urban life and nature. I always wonder why I am not out there more often experiencing the wholeness and my connection to creation. In the poem, I include my frustration with the many necessary environmental discussions, meetings and actions that as yet, have not resolved the planetary crisis.
“Healing Thoughts” ends the Redwood series. It is here in the forest that I feel my own spiritual strength connecting me to the powers of the universe and my hope of renewed balance for the earth and me.
It was a joy to make this video with Paul Richards and Eileen McGregor. I hope you enjoy it.