Last month, I got to be an Artist-in-Residence for the National Park Service for the second time. I spent two weeks writing poetry about Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve’s old-growth forests and stunning cave formations.
The cave at the monument is a type of marble dissolution cave. Acidic rainwater flowed through blue-veined marble to create it.
It featured nine local poets (Catherine Kyle, Rachel Murphy, Amanda Rich, Hannah Rodabaugh, Ruth Salter, Daphne Stanford, Elena Tomorowitz, and Tessy Ward) and Rena Ashton (educational director of Zoo Boise). They read poetry and essays about nature and conservation.
Last month, I was writer-in-residence at the Bown Crossing branch of the Boise Public Library. I typed poetry onto a sculpture called Vox Poplar (“for the people”) that includes a typewriter and a roll of paper embossed with cottonwood trees.
2014 marked the 100-year anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon. People lauded the species in articles, videos, and celebrations. Nearly 50 articles—found everywhere from NPR, to the Atlantic, to the New Yorker—were published about the death of Martha, the last passenger pigeon, at the Cincinnati Zoo.
In these articles, we learned that R.W. Shufeldt, the man who dissected Martha, left her heart untouched (a fitting tribute), and that Martha’s specimen travels first class with a special handler. We learned there was a memorial launched at the Cincinnati Zoo, a place that has become a reliquary to Martha, with passenger pigeon-themed exhibits and a statue to mark her passing.
It seems like every time the Trump administration does something really horrid, I end up crying — which is why I sometimes avoid the current news cycle — and why I also have a list on my smartphone’s notebook app called List Of Times The Trump Administration Has Made Me Cry.
Other times, I feel I have to own it as much as possible and wallow in the horrid times we are living in, so I created a soundtrack of some depressing pieces of music that match the general atmosphere and political climate.