In May, 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 preserve is situated in the Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion, a world biodiversity hotspot that boasts nearly 70,000 species.
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.
Last month, I got to help plan and host an Earth Day Poetry Reading as part of the BSU Department of Sustainability’s Earth Week 2019.
I was joined by Kat Davis, Lisa Hecht, and Pei-Lin Yu in planning and hosting the event.
I got to curate and be part of an amazing poetry reading this past Saturday: an Earth Day 2018 poetry reading at The Cabin.
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.
Katrine Claassens, 2018
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 many 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.
There is a part of me that will always love pests like pigeons or houseflies or starlings. It’s the part of me that thinks the maligned often have their own value, their own stories to tell when we get to know them.
After all, I once was that person in school. I was teased, as so many kids were teased, as being without value to my peers.
So when I see a maligned animal species that people have assigned as being without value to them (often through very little thought or speculation), I see myself in it.
Besides, there is something respectable, even heroic, in the scrappy survivor.