On Thursday, March 18th, the Library hosted the second Poetry Corner virtual reading and discussion of the Spring 2021 semester, Empower Women, Empower Earth. With a theme of ecofeminism, this emotional and enlightening event brought together over forty members of our campus community for an afternoon of poetry and discussion in celebration of the joint work of feminism and environmentalism towards saving our planet. We were honored to welcome three local and esteemed writer-activists, Dr. Persis Karim, Maya Khosla, and Kim Shuck.
This event was co-hosted by the Skyline College Library, Poetry Club and English Department, in collaboration with Aileen Cassinetto, San Mateo County Poet Laureate with the discussion facilitated by Skyline College alumna and Poetry Club President, Hilary Cruz Mejia.
Student and community members enjoyed the event and shared their impressions with event organizers at the conclusion of the event. One student shared that “I certainly was not prepared to listen to the powerful words that the guests shared… I enjoyed my time immensely as I have felt this way that I have not been able to feel for quite some time” with another student sharing “I enjoyed Persis’s poem about the seed collector’s daughter. I lost my mother when I was younger so it’s always nice to hear memories others share. Very powerful poems as well from everyone.”
Another student summed up the event beautifully by sharing “today’s event was eye opening, like when we were going over the article about climate change and how burning things is drastically affecting our world. I liked how they were connecting topics like covid with the global crisis, and how everyone was sharing their opinions in the comment section. I also liked the calm vibe and how it was very welcoming to share any ideas we had on the topics being talked about.”
Even with difficult topics like climate justice, fire, deforestation and environmental racism, students revealed that the “poetry provided a lot of solace and inspiration. It just opens up our eyes into seeing more beauty in things that most would simply find devastating.”
During the virtual event, poets shared relevant links for more information and to learn more about their research and work. Kim Shuck, San Francisco Poet Laureate began our event with an acknowledgement of the Ramaytush Ohlone Territory, joining the event from San Francisco. Losing her daughter to racial violence in 2012, Kim shares this journey through a collection of fifty poems honoring murdered and missing Indigenous women titled, ‘Murdered and Missing’. Kim writes, “My intention for these poems was to exorcise some of my own demons, to put words to my own confusions and pains, to mourn my personal losses and those of others.”
Kim shared her poems ‘Blooming’, ‘In the Walnut Grove’ and ‘Bridges and Crossroads’ among others.
Dr. Persis Karim, professor, poet and Director of the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies at San Francisco State University, shared poetry from her ongoing Twitter writing project, titled ‘Covid-19 Blues Diary’, and from the Shadow and Light Poetry project, an artistic response to an attack on al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad in March 2007.
Maya Khosla, wildlife biologist and writer, shared her work documenting the ecology of fire and communities who practice cultural burning. She shared information to help enlighten attendees about fire and its effects on logged and mature forests. Event attendees were guided through insightful readings and a discussion about respecting and understanding fire vs. fearing it as well as fire as an artistic muse.
Maya shared her observation and research about birds, beetles and how destructive deforestation can be and that after a devastating fire, “dead trees are the homes” for so many species of birds. She also shared links to others’ work that that inspire and inform her research and writing including a photo essay, Camp Fire Photos: Logged Areas Burned Much More Intensely, While Mature Forest Burned Mostly at Lower Intensities, Bill McKibben’s essay
To Counter Climate Change, We Need to Stop Burning Things and Forest Biomass Energy is a False Solution.
You are invited to learn more about Maya Khosla’s award-winning documentary film, ‘Searching for the Gold Spot: The Wild After Wildfire’, as well as her related article, ‘Let Wildfires Burn: Study Shows Forests Bounce Back on Their Own’. Her recently published book, ALL THE FIRES OF WIND AND LIGHT is a collection of poems highlighting the beauty of fire and the balance between our precious ecosystem and natural rejuvenation.
As with all Poetry Corner events, attendees were invited to bring a favorite poem or personal written piece related to empowering, protecting and celebrating women and the earth (or related topic). To learn more about the featured poets including links to their work and research, please visit the Library Guide, Ecofeminism. The Poetry Corner Series offers the Skyline College community a space to gather and celebrate diversity and lyrical power through the art of poetry. Our next Poetry Corner event will celebrate poems written in non-English languages. If you are interested in reading a poem in a language other than English along with an English translation, please contact Pia Walawalkar at email@example.com.
We welcome you to the next Library community event, the Skyline College Human Library on Thursday, April 15. To learn more about the Human Library project and to participate as a ‘book’ or ‘reader’ during our next event, please visit: https://guides.skylinecollege.edu/LibraryEvents/HumanLibrary2021. Feel free to contact Pia Walawalkar at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in participating as a “human book” or have any questions about the event.
Article and Image by Marisa Thigpen