Friday, March 31, 2017

Everyone's First Word

My first word, everyone’s first word, was air.
~Simon Armitage

As I said yesterday, I'm thinking about the world around us and the moral imperative to take care of it.

In England, University of Sheffield and poet Simon Armitage teamed up to create a poem billboard with a hi-tech coating of titanium dioxide, which uses sunlight and oxygen to eliminate pollution particles. Awesome, right? It only costs $168 to add the pollution-fighting layer to the billboard, which works for a year.


by Jackie Kay

We closed the borders, folks, we nailed it.
No trees, no plants, no immigrants.
No foreign nurses, no Doctors; we smashed it.
We took control of our affairs. No fresh air.
No birds, no bees, no HIV, no Poles, no pollen.

read the rest of it here.


A Mother on the West Virginia Line Considers the Public Health
by Julia Spicher Kasdorf:

...They drilled the gas pipeline on a weekend, didn’t go where the DEP said,
so it blew out in our crick—bentonite and “residual waste” clouding

clean water stocked with trout. That’s when I cried. That crick flows
into the Mon, and people get their drinking water out of that river...

“Alternate waste disposal on site” means they can bury radioactive
drill cuttings in your land. When they drained the frack pits,

they shook the tarp and bulldozed the sludge into the ground, too.
There’s places we mow now, but we don’t feed that hay to our horses.

read the rest here.


A smog-inspired poem from the point-of-view of lung cancer (written by a Chinese doctor): I Long to be King.

Air, Air Everywhere activity guide, grades 3-5

The Poem Farm has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Amy!


Brenda at FriendlyFairyTales said...

Clean air and water should be priorities! I love this activist post. I've been grinding my teeth over the Orange Menace's actions. Has he ever been on a hike in a park? Does he only look at land for its potential for development and money-in-the-bank? Argh. Grinding teeth again. Clean air and water. They matter. Thanks for this.

Jane @ said...

What an incredible idea for a pollution-reducing billboard!

There's such a frustrating lack of foresight among our politicians. Yes, of course jobs matter, no one is saying they don't, but if people's children will be living in a toxic wasteland because of those jobs, what's the point? We can't simply look at the present, as if the future isn't our problem! >.<

jama said...

It's really hard to fathom some people's priorities when it comes to taking care of the planet. Quick profit, shortsightedness. Thanks for these powerful poems.

Amy LV said...

These poems knocked the air out of my body. Thank you, Tabatha, for always lifting us to remembering our best selves. I admire the work you do here. Happy Poetry Friday. I'll be sharing these with my Political Postcards Monday writing group. x

BJ Lee said...

These poems pack a punch and I felt it! Thanks for posting!

Linda said...

Powerful words, Tabatha. Thank you for posting these!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Oh my. Hard not to get depressed by this stuff. I do love that billboard, though!

Linda Mitchell said...

Here's the thing. Someone has got to say these things.....until someone listens to these things. I know the scientists have been trying, the educators have been trying, the journalists, the activists. At some point all the sayers are also listeners. I'm so glad that you've join in with these poems. Keep going, Tabatha! Maybe I can put one on my shirt when I go to the March on Earth Day!

Kay said...

I hope someone, somewhere is reading these poems though I'm not holding my breath that the right people are. On a more positive note, I have read several articles recently that share the view that clean energy will continue to grow and keep coming regardless of what Washington says and does. We can hope so.

Margaret Simon said...

This week we read the March Scope magazine from Scholastic and came to the conclusion as one of my students put it, "Humans are jacked up!" We read about the Dust Bowl and the smog in New Delhi. We humans keep messing things up. We need to be more aware and more active to make change.

Linda B said...

So sad to read these, yet I'm pleased that they are writing.Surely something good will happen soon. I started to say the pipeline debacle is the worst, but everything is the worst. "We don't feed that hay to our horses." Thanks, Tabatha for collecting these.

Bridget Magee said...

Holy wow - if only the powers that be read/heard/believed the truth in these poems. Powerful stuff, Tabatha. I especially like Armitage's line: "cars blow kisses to our lips from theirs" - wow.

Tara said...

In a strange way, this has been a hopeful time of activism. It takes me back to my younger years, and marching for a whole host of progressive issues. The sad thing is that we are still agitating for the same things....

Mary Lee said...

I'll alert you to Steve Peterson's Poetry Month project lead post (he's thinking about moral values, too). Be sure to read his first poem. It's not air, but it could fit with your choices.

And I'll alert him to this post. More proof that poetry tells the truth is raw and important ways.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing "Everyone's First Word,"a wonderful poem. You've given us a strong collection of environmental woes to ponder Tabitha, wish we still had environmentalists at our helm-We'll have to work harder.