My second poetry volume, Storm Camp, is on its way from Sugartown Publishing. Like its predecessor, The Climbers (Pitt Poetry Series, 1978), this collection draws a lot on my experiences as a rock climber and mountaineer–a scenery in which some readers find religious overtones. Library Journal said back then: “The tough-mindedness and technical excellence of these poems demand and deserve discriminating readers,” adding: “Religious poetry of the first intensity can still be written: Allen Tate, Geoffrey Hill, and now John Hart have done it.” Readings so far scheduled: January 23 at Book Passage, Corte Madera, California; March 11 at the Frank Bette Center in Alameda; more to come. (Photo: Ed Webster; Design, Margaret Copeland/Terragrafix.)
After 150 years, a new witness to some celebrated Civil War and frontier events steps forward. In the 1920s, my great-grandfather John Benton Hart dictated memories of fighting Confederates in Missouri in 1864 and Indians in Wyoming in 1865, followed by adventures along the ill-starred Bozeman Trail to Montana. “Johnny’s” lively accounts amplify a sparse record, sometimes challenging received knowledge. (Who carried the mail between embattled Forts C. F. Smith and Phil Kearny? Who really killed High-Backed Wolf?) Also striking are his pages on the life of the Crow Indians, allied with the government in the bitter Bozeman conflict. I’m deep into editing the memoir; University of Oklahoma Press will publish.
My poetry discussion group at Book Passage in Corte Madera starts up again September 19, 2016, and runs for eight Monday evenings, 7-9. We’ll kick around poems and poets from Shakespeare to last week, touching on many “classics” and also some lesser known names. The people who sign up help set our route through the world of English-language poetry (sometimes a few translations). On all evenings but the first, I provide texts in advance. Beginning or puzzled poetry readers very welcome! I’ve been leading this group since 2009. Signup here.
Here’s a clip from my July 19 appearance with Jordan Fisher-Smith at the Commonwealth Club of California. As part of the Club’s ClimateOne series, we kicked around what it can mean to “preserve nature” in our warming, human-dominated world. Yellowstone National Park (see Jordan’s new book Engineering Eden) is a case in point; Point Reyes National Seashore (as in my recent An Island in Time) is another. Moderator Greg Dalton and a lively audience kept us on our toes. And here’s the whole thing.
Last winter Estuary News offered “a gnarly assignment”: to write a sort of guidebook to the labyrinth of plans and agencies devoted to the health of San Francisco Bay and its inseparable twin, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Two Hearts Beating Not Quite as One appears in the June issue. Fifty years after the first Save the Bay campaign, how are we doing? Pretty well in some places, with regard to some problems. Not so well elsewhere. The sheer number of players and diverse authorities makes action harder. A newly recognized problem, sea level rise, adds to the pressure on us all.
I’ll be talking on parks, farms, and climate change with fellow author Jordan Fisher-Smith at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco on Tuesday, July 19, 6:30. Jordan’s new book, Engineering Eden, centers on the tricky and sometimes tragic course of bear management at Yellowstone; analogous struggles at Point Reyes pervade my recent title An Island in Time: 50 Years of Point Reyes National Seashore. What is it to “preserve nature” these days? How does the park cause fit in with another dear to environmentalists, the family farm? And what does the warming world portend for both? Click for details.
My poetry discussion group at Book Passage in Corte Madera starts up again February 24, 2016 and runs for eight sessions.. We’ll kick around poems and poets from Shakespeare to last week, touching on many “classics” and also some lesser known names. The people who sign up help set our route through the world of English-language poetry (sometimes a few translations). On all evenings but the first, I provide texts in advance. Beginning or puzzled poetry readers very welcome! I’ve been leading this group since 2009. This time around we’re alternating between Wednesdays and Thursdays, with the option of signing up for half-series of just Wed or just Thu.
It’s one thing to start up a poetry journal, quite another to keep it coming for decades. With the October 2015 issue, Blue Unicorn, published in Kensington near Berkeley, California, approaches its fortieth year; I’ve been an editor for a third of that run. Every cover–over 100 so far–has featured a piece of unicorn art chosen by founding editor Ruth Iodice. This time it’s one of the medieval “Lady and the Unicorn” tapestries, known to many through Rainer Maria Rilke’s description in The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. Some 30 poets, well-known or deserving to be, have poems in the issue, including Therese Arcenaux, Joan Colby, Michael Cadnum, Sally Cook, Ruth Daniell, Daniel J. Langton, Paul Malamud, Fred Ostrander, Oliver Rice, Judith Saunders, Joseph Salemi. I chime in on the Rilke theme with a translation from his Sonnets to Orpheus.
There’s a nice feature on the Activist poets (working in the tradition of my father Lawrence Hart) in the Summer/Fall issue of Seventh Quarry, an international poetry journal based in Swansea, Wales. That’s Dylan Thomas country, as editor Peter Thabit Jones proudly points out. The set includes poems by Jon Miller, Pat Nelson, Fred Ostrander, Bonnie Thomas, Judith Yamamoto, and myself; I also contribute an introduction giving some history and exploring the idea we share: that poetry, to be poetry, must be clearly different from prose, not just in occasional “peak” lines, but throughout.
On July 10, 2015, President Obama proclaimed a National Monument along a hundred miles of rugged Coast Range ridges west of Sacramento, California.Two weeks later, much of the new monument was engulfed in the flames of the Wragg and Rocky Fires. I wrote about this captivating landscape before the designation and the fires (High Country News, May 25, 2015), and will survey the new realities, physical and political, for the April-June issue of Bay Nature.