Stanzas and strawberries

FruitShare logoRemember when a few weeks ago I won that haiku contest? Not only did I get a free t-shirt, but now I’ve been given the opportunity to serve as guest judge for FruitShare’s latest poetry contest!

FruitShare is made up of some nice people in the St. Croix River valley trying to promote organic fruit that you can get delivered to your doorstep all year long. The contest seeks short poems–though not necessarily haiku–with a focus on fruit:

This time around, we’re changing up the rules a little. Instead of requiring a haiku, you are free to write any kind of poem, as long as it is 10 lines or under. Choose your favorite fruit or two from our Currently Shipping tab, and start writing. Submit your completed poem as a comment to this post, or send it to to be posted. Poems are due by May 10th, so the judges have time to review them and announce the winner in time for May 12 – National Limerick Day!

I hope you, reader, will give the contest a shot. It’s just a fun little way to celebrate poetry and healthy, tasty fruit. I look forward to judging you!


Twenty days of sojourn

my mind shattered
in thousands of fragments
wishes to spend
the whole day on a boat
drifting with the river stream

Okamoto Kanoko, 1889-1939

Drifting with the river stream

twenty days
of sojourn in the woods
and yet
not a single tree willing
to take me in its warm embrace


Twenty days of sojourn


Stay together, learn the flowers, go light

Me and Gary Snyder, City Lights Books, October 24, 2004
Me and Gary Snyder, City Lights Books, October 2004

A new documentary features Gary Snyder and Jim Harrison wandering around California’s Central Coast talking about poetry, art, Zen and God:

This film, borrowing its name from one of Snyder’s most eloquent non-fiction books, revolves around a life-long conversation between Snyder and his fellow poet and novelist Jim Harrison. These two old friends and venerated men of American letters converse while taking a wilderness trek along the central California coast in an area that has been untouched for centuries. They debate the pros and cons of everything from Google to Zen koans. The discussions are punctuated by archival materials and commentaries from Snyder friends, observers, and intimates who take us through the ‘Beat’ years, the years of Zen study in Japan up to the present — where Snyder continues to be a powerful spokesperson for ecological sanity and bio-regionalism.

You can keep up-to-date on the film (and hopefully showings around the country after its premiere in San Francisco in May or at least a DVD release) by becoming a fan on Facebook.

It also appears that there is a book coming out to accompany the film, The Etiquette of Freedom: Gary Snyder, Jim Harrison, and The Practice of the Wild.

And here are some excerpts from both authors:

— Jim Harrison, from The Road Home

For the Children

The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us.
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:
stay together
learn the flowers
go light

— Gary Snyder, from Turtle Island

Read about the time Katie and I met Gary Snyder on our honeymoon in San Francisco.

Katie and me with Gary Snyder
Katie and me with Gary Snyder


Middle March

asphalt and concrete
beaten by winter
broken and cracked
drive across wisconsin
on the first day of spring

trees without leaves
ground without grass
sweeping hills,
dormant dairy farms
and warm wind

ridges and gullies
corn fields and tree stands
woodlots and knolls
an old world anew
a season survived

snow in the shady places
the lady faces west
and up
her eyes and her lips
smothered in sun


“Smack against my ear”

There is a wonderful poem about Levon Helm in this week’s New Yorker.

And if, unfortunately, you don’t know who Levon Helm is, I suggest you watch these two videos: