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 [...]

Commonwealth Club podcast

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 [...]

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 [...]

Activist Poets in Wales

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,  [...]

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 [...]

My poetry discussion group at Book Passage in Corte Madera starts up again October 1, 2015 and runs for eight sessions. Proceeding more or less chronologically, we 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 [...]

Filling Up On Empty

El Niño may be on the way, but California's water problems aren't abating any time soon. In the June issue of Estuary News, I look past the present drought to ask how much water California can store underground for the even worse conditions climatologists warn us we can expect. Estuary News is the respected quarterly [...]

In Johnny’s hoofprints

I'm headed to Wyoming for a week in July to trace the movements of my ancestor, cavalryman and general hell-raiser John Benton Hart, in 1865-68. He left a rich memoir of his experiences at the end of the Civil War and thereafter on the frontier. My latest article extracted from this lode appeared this spring [...] In August, National Parks Month, PBS stations nationwide will be showing  Rebels with a Cause, the story of how the coast just north of San Francisco was wrested from looming development to become the open space oasis it is today.  Narrated by Frances McDormand, the much-honored documentary centers on the people--the Rebels--who stepped forward [...]

Activist poets in June

On June 3 I'm reading with others at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, 444 Natoma Street,  7 to 9 PM. It's their Art and Poetry Evening in conjunction with a big analysts' convention that's in town. On June 14, my colleague Bonnie Thomas launches her book Sun on the Rind, fresh from Sugartown Publishing, [...]