Aug 18 2014

Harebells and the Wilderness Act

I photographed these flowers on Lillian Ridge in Washington state’s Olympic Mountains a couple of weeks ago, a place that remains buried, at least partially in snow, well into July. In fact, this trail crossed melting snow. I was able to scoop some up and make a soggy snowball. Glacier-draped Mt. Olympus looms large and Port Angeles, the nearest city--any city--feels nonexistent. On Lillian Ridge, high alpine country closed by federal law to mechanical  transport (It is dedicated wilderness—the Read more [...]

Jun 9 2014

Clandestine Dinner in Ladder Company 12, Detroit

Can a nature-loving woman, with a penchant for getting grumpy about misguided land use, enter an abandoned fire station on West Lafayette, Detroit, and feel—happy expectation? This might be one of my best Forage discoveries yet: an organization called Ponyride organizes Clandestine Dinners (yes, that's a proper name) in Detroit's abandoned buildings. Part performance art, part old-school fundraising, they provide an excellent example of imagination at work where imagination is sorely needed. (As Read more [...]

Jun 3 2014

Diane Seuss’s Poem, “This is now”

There's nostalgia, which serious writers regularly lampoon, for good reasons, I suppose--'though I'm not, you'll notice, one-hundred-percent certain of this. There's also affectionately-clear-eyed-looking-back, an as yet unnamed but regular feature of poems that engage me on first encounter. This sort of looking back might flirt with nostalgia, but it's not interested in a serious relationship. It also acknowledges with full immersive pleasure that each one of us has been somewhere. I don't think Read more [...]

May 21 2014

Foreign and Familiar: Meridith Ridl’s Alaska Series

Anthologies, like art galleries and wooded trails, invite exploration. I rarely read them front to back. Instead, I meander. And that's how I discovered this exquisite watercolor and ink study in Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry (a 2014 Michigan Notable Book from New Issues Press). It felt at once familiar and foreign. At first the long bruise across the top half of the watercolor paper was clouds, the ink wash below it, a shoreline of trees, shadowed and lit, and then the black rectangle seemed Read more [...]

Feb 1 2014

Nigel Peake Walks and Draws the World’s Cities

I am fascinated by the wild world. I'm referring to the more-than-human parts of this planet we share, the places and things that would (probably) keep on keeping on whether or not humans were here or not. They connect me with resilience and endurance in ways I continue to try to articulate. Artist/illustrator, Nigel Peake, whose work I admire so much I mention it on this website's welcome page, seems to love instead—or perhaps also—the marks that humans make. His debut book, In the Wilds, Read more [...]

Dec 21 2013

Thirteen Things You Might Not Know About the Saugatuck Dunes in Winter

(After you've read my list, please add your own items as comments.) Freshly fallen snow has a fragrance brighter than summer. New snowflakes cut into the trail's icy hardpack under your boots, providing a pretty good grip. Deer, fox, bird, and squirrel tracks are more numerous than human and dog tracks. Till the big lake freezes, it's voice is omnipresent, no matter how tucked into the trees you are. Unless the dunes are buried deeply with snow, sand moves, sometimes hundreds of yards Read more [...]

Nov 21 2013

One Place, Two Stories, at the Edge of the Saugatuck Dunes

I'd been to the woods for my daily hike. Back behind the wheel of the car, my body felt strong and capable—I can climb hills in the sand, quickly. I know these unmapped trails as well as—no, better—than the back of either hand. Flooded with fresh oxygen and touched on all sides by whatever it is that leaves release, I was hardly winded and not sore at all. I was, as they say, in the zone: high on endorphins and good air. Perhaps because I'd carried a bit of my woods habit of attentiveness Read more [...]

Oct 2 2013

“In Things,” a Poem in Response to David Adix’s Native Figure #70

Here's a draft of the poem I'm writing in response to David Adix's Native Figure #70. The poem's title comes from a classic adage about creative invention from the middle of the last century: "No ideas but in things" (William Carlos Williams). I'm sometimes moved to push back against this insight, but I always find myself coming back, with pleasure, to the physical world while making poems. Native Figure #70 is literally stuffed with things: a smorgasbord for someone like me. I keep finding new morsels Read more [...]

Sep 22 2013

Ekphrasis in Downtown Douglas, Michigan

Last Monday I carried my notebook and camera into the Water Street Gallery in downtown Douglas, Michigan, to meet, in person, a sculpture I'd been admiring in photographs: Native Figure #70, by David Adix. The gallery staff had given me the following assignment: respond, in one hundred words or less, to one of the pieces of art in their current exhibition, It's a Matter of Opinion. More precisely, they were looking for my "opinion"--quotation marks theirs. Assignments like these, I've learned, Read more [...]

Aug 5 2013

Mary Ruefle on the Contrast Between Thinking and Creating

It's been a while since I've offered anything up. I've encountered plenty of items of interest over the past few weeks, among them: a tromp l'oeil mural I spotted down an alleyway ("horses" hanging their heads over a "stable door")—the sort of mural that triggers a doubletake and gratitude for human imagination. And then there were the land snails and slug trails I've spotted (the former in the woods, the latter in the backyard) after our especially soggy June. During wetter periods, watch for Read more [...]