Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Turtles and owls and dragonfly, oh my

photo of dawn redwoods
© harrington
Hi! Welcome. Thanks for stopping by. Today's picture was actually taken almost 3 weeks ago. The dawn redwoods have been successfully transplanted and continue to grow. Obviously, the photographer still hasn't mastered depth of field techniques and requisite settings. I suppose it's possible I'm trying to attain the impossible. It wouldn't be the first time and probably won't be the last time I've done so.
It's been awhile since I posted the points Gary Snyder proposes we use to assess nature poetry. I'm going to summarize the key items to help us remember:
•    That it be literate--that is, nature literate.
•    That it be grounded in a place--thus, place literate
•    That it use Coyote as a totem--the Trickster
•    That it use Bear as a totem
•    That it find further totems “Depth ecology.”
•    That it fear not science.
•    That it go further with science
•    That it study mind and language
•    That it be crafty and get the work done.
 Now that we have them fresh in our minds, let's take a look at another of our local treasures, Freya Manfred. I hadn't encountered her work before I found a copy of SWIMMING WITH A HUNDRED YEAR OLD SNAPPING TURTLE in a local, independent book store. I couldn't resist the title. Here's a sample poem:
The Owl Cries At Night

The owl cries at night,
and I imagine her wide gold eyes
and feathered ears tuned
to the trembling woods and waters,
seeing and hearing what
I will never see or hear:
a red fox with one bloody paw,
a hunch-backed rabbit running,
sand grains grating on the shore,
a brown leaf crackling
under a brown mouse foot.

With so much to learn,
I could stop writing forever,
and still live well.
In some ways, this is reminiscent of Loren Eiseley's All the Night Wings. On the other hand, it is uniquely Freya Manfred. If I had a third hand, I'd now write: One the other hand, again, this time I'd like to turn things around and ask what you think of Snyder's points as a basis for assessing nature poetics. I think they work extremely well, even discounting my bias. I also think that, to some extent and with some leniency, The Owl Cries at Night meets just about all of them. To discover more of her magic yourself, you can buy Ms. Manfred's books through Red Dragonfly Press or Amazon. You might also check with your local library. Please consider it. Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections served daily here in My Minnesota.