Why tonight? If you followed me in the past, you know I've been working on a book that emerged from my trip to Alberta - the Athabasca River, Rocky Mountains, boreal forest - and the industrial devastation of the tar sands region two years ago now. I think of it as my ecological lament, and it is that. The lamentation is rooted in the magnificence of the eco-community that is this river, the gorgeous glacial waters, the wildlife, the stunning star-filled night skies, all of which puts the oil sands into context, that accentuates the horror that we now can witness all around the planet as industrial civilization spreads it's tentacles everywhere, and most voraciously and destructively in the extraction and production of fossil fuels for that civilization to burn and burn and burn...
|Someone I met along the river|
I work on ecology as my other vocation in life, giving workshops and presentations, working with groups to promote outreach and education.
Sometimes that makes the writing life challenging. One almost covers the bills, the other not at all. And so for most writers, yes? It's wrong, and we can gripe about it forever, but it is the reality in which we work.
What made we want to start up again here is that the first draft of the book is almost done. It still needs lots of work and editing, but the vision of this short volume really came clear along the way, with the support of my critique group at Red Oak Writing here in Milwaukee. They really believe in this project, and that's been plenty of motivation to stay in the heart, not the head, and make this one of those cries in the wilderness that I hope will get out into the world.
So I want to make use of this tool again - for my writing life. This lamentation, which is about our deeply wounded planet, has brought out some of my best writing because I'm letting it go, letting the pain come, letting the plea surface - I am lamenting the destruction of so much beauty in the world. As this pours out to the final pages, there will be room again for the poems and the essays that will come next for me. They keep knocking on my door, saying, "are you ready yet?"
I'm getting ready...
|Hamlet of Brule, along the Athabasca River|