Tag Archives: Wilderness Interface Zone

Path of the Veteran Deer by Lucas Shepherd

Whitetail deer buck  West Virginia by ForestWander

Through tangles of blackberry canes gallops a regal creature of the timber: Odocoileus virginianus, or the white-tailed deer. This one is a buck with cracked antlers, his coat birch brown. He sniffs the air before crossing the man-made paths. This veteran has survived so many hunting seasons because of his respect for orange vests and the pump of a twelve gauge shotgun. The whistle of a meadowlark shrills in a nearby gorge and the deer hops out of sight, perhaps to find an alternate path to the overflow creek where he can drink to his content.

No matter where I travel in the sprawling Sockum Ridge Woods in southeast Iowa, evidence of deer persists, whether in the form of flattened foxtail grass where a fawn hid from the strange newness of this world, a discarded antler on the winding path to Lookout Hill, or the beating sound of a herd moving through the hickory and oak trees to a safer location. At the turn of the 20th Century the white-tailed deer was hunted to devastatingly low numbers, but a regulated hunting system and conservation programs saw a steady proliferation in many sections of the United States. In Sockum Ridge, if you sit long enough in one spot and acclimate yourself to nature, you will surely see the white-tailed deer moving over the carpet of dead leaves, silent as Sunday School. If you are lucky enough, you will spot the patriarch of the royal family: the twelve point buck. Continue reading Path of the Veteran Deer by Lucas Shepherd

Green Children by Jenny Webb

tomatoes in the garden-1 by Jenny Webb

Like me, my first children arrived in March. Looking down at them now, their branches bowed and thick with ripened weights, green through the sun’s steady warmth—these unruly creatures bear no obvious relationship to the sweet brown seeds carefully tucked into flimsy plastic trays and lovingly carried outdoors on the days spring chose to trail her warmth along the soil, stirring their pale souls toward the light. In the beginning, when we planted our garden, we worried over our sprouting family, Nick more than I. He cradled the trays as he moved them about the yard, seeking the sun with a visionary faith in our vegetable family. We figured that if the plants lived, we might qualify for a cat by winter and eventually, human children. Continue reading Green Children by Jenny Webb

State of the WIZ 2012

WIZ logo photo boot and deer hoofprints

Permit me to take a bit of virtual space to talk about Wilderness Interface Zone and its doings. I think it smart to revisit aspirations as well as mark recent changes and give notice of coming ones.  When William Morris helped me set up the site, I thought I’d build it, as the “About” page says, “to develop, inspire, and promote literary nature and science writing in the Mormon writing community.  WIZ’s intent is to open a frontier in Mormon arts, demonstrating in the process that it’s okay to write nature literature ….”

These were my earliest goals. I think WIZ has begun achieving some of them simply by staying alive for almost three and a half years. However, where I believe WIZ reaches highest expression is in its building an open venue for community members to celebrate or explore their relationship with nature, a relationship often sealed with the kiss of language. I might have begun WIZ, but readers have toted tons of necessaries to the literary barn raising, making it a unique, energetic, community-driven site.  Because of the wide range of voices speaking at WIZ, I’ve come think of it as a potential haven for narrative and rhetorical diversity, which, as I say so often that people are probably growing weary of hearing it, I think of as kinds of biodiversity. In the interest of providing ground for heterogeneity, then, which in nature supports the overall health, beauty, and potentiality of a place, WIZ will never turn nature writing away because it doesn’t follow a hot trend in the genre or pitch its voice to match those of dominant artists telling stories about people, other creatures, and the planet.  WIZ is an exploratory, let’s-see-where-this-takes-us site.  It’s a many-voices-mixing-may-give-rise-to-new-ground site. Continue reading State of the WIZ 2012

Winners of WIZ’s 2012 Spring Poetry Runoff Announced

Snow_river by Ranveig Thattai

Wilderness Interface Zone’s poets came through once again to present a full field of colorful and mind-brightening spring poetry during this year’s Spring Poetry Runoff.  Spring couldn’t find better heralds of its arrival or celebrants of its renewed greening of those parts of the world that are fortunate enough to get True Spring.  The WIZ admin (that’s Jonathon and me) were thrilled with the participation.  We’d like to express our profound gratitude to both writers and readers who picked up ribbons on our Maypole of vernal verse.

As usual, we had many strong contestants.  And as usual, we feel that we can’t award enough people enough prizes. However, those who did not place sometimes receive consolation prizes as other publications rummage through WIZ’s Runoff poetry, come up with a handful of some Spring Runoff poems–winners and worthy contestants–and republish them.  Dialogue did so last year and Sunstone is doing it this year.  So don’t be surprised if you’re thumbing through Sunstone’s upcoming stewardship issue and discover WIZ poems among the sheaves.  WIZ is pleased to be a gateway for both emerging and established writers to win wider attention for their work.

WILDERNESS INTERFACE ZONE’S 2012 SPRING POETRY RUNOFF WINNERS

The Most Popular Poem Award: Not to belabor the obvious, but James Goldberg’s crowd-pleasing and tender reflection on fathers and sons set against a warm spring background within which stirs snakes and memories managed to pull away from William Reger’s also quite skillful and intriguing “First Robins.”  This was, hands down, the most exciting Most Popular Poem vote in WIZ’s three years of running the competition.  Thanks to both Will and James for putting on a spectacular show and for drawing in a record number of 212 voters.

WIZ admin’s comments on “Since he was weaned”:

Jonathon: What’s not to like in James’ “Since he was weaned”? Spring may be delayed here, and when it comes the fever breaks quietly, cumulatively. It is never much more than implied in bones needing rest, and in the sullen, housebound winterwork the father does. But he is, from the start, infected with love and wonder, and the son for his part with that urgency to Go! we all have carried in our bones, carry still if we are blessed to: an impulse caught in winter worries (where there’s Winter) and released, uncoiled, where there is Spring.

Patricia: Relationships. The world needs more relationship poems as convincing as this one, and, of course, more poems advocating kindness toward snakes. And as a reader, thus a participant in James’ word-world, I felt the language welcome me to its story.  Jonathon speaks of the father becoming “infected” with love and wonder; from “Since he was weaned” emanates simple, native magnetism that likewise draws in the reader affectionately. I have a powerful, sympathetic response to the boy’s whole-body hunger to launch himself (with Papa’s company and aid) into that wider world.  An authentic poem, fully approachable yet artistically savvy.

The Admin Award: Every year since the Runoff competition began, WIZ administrators (that’d be me for the first 2 years; this year, Jonathon and myself) have dipped in and chosen their favorite poem from the Runoff.   The overabundance of truly worthy poems always makes choosing at least somewhat painful; this year was no exception.  This year, the Admin Award goes to Mark Penny for his lyrical, sprung sonnet, “I Miss That Time of Year I Know as Spring.”

WIZ admin’s comments on “I Miss That Time of Year I Know as Spring”:

Jonathon: The comment section on Mark’s “I Miss that Time of Year” bears out that “rain-chaffed ions” was an accident, but a happy one, reading Spring as a harvest of the dormant seed of Winter with its “white-robed monarchs” in their “white-leaved bower,” and its cold but coursing water. There’s something of Dylan Thomas at work here–“cloud-licked,” “herd-lord”–but restful, clean, and sober at a holy sonnet, at a sonnet as altar.

Patricia: When I read “I Miss That Time of Year I Know as Spring”, I thought, “That gets it for me–that longing for spring that makes the mind ache.”  I find the poem a satisfying answer to WIZ’s call for poems to sing up the season.  I loved that line, “Of white-robed monarchs in a white-leaved bower”–thrilling and chilling.  As Jonathon points out, “I Miss” is a sonnet, yet the rhyme scheme dances about freely.  And yes, there’s something holy about Mark’s poem–even in that reflection, ” … dream / Never quite shaken off, a dream of chills.”  “I Miss” scratched my spring itch.

For your enjoyment, below you can read or re-read the two winning poems .

I Miss That Time of Year I Know as Spring by Mark Penny

I miss that time of year I know as Spring:
The rain-chaffed ions on the air, the air
Breathed by the shrew and hawk, the wheat and tare,
Stirred by the green-leafed lyre and the wing.
I miss the swift, infant quaking of the grass
In the first stumbling steps of cloud-licked wind,
The boastful lowing of the herd-lord sun,
The warbling riot of the wild morass.
I miss that setting forward of the hour,
That lunge of drowsy muscles from a dream
Never quite shaken off, a dream of chills,
Of white-robed monarchs in a white-leaved bower,
Of cold blood coursing in the veins and streams,
Of all that revels lying prone and still.

Since he was weaned by James Goldberg

Since he was weaned, my son’s been hungry for the open sky—
so that now, at eighteen months, he’s a seeker and a maker of signs.

A simple knock at the air
comes first.
It means: open this door
and let me ascend the concrete steps
to that greater bliss and those long lines of sight.
It means: let there be light!
Or, if the light is already waiting, let me rise to it.
Let me bask today.

Then there’s fetching the shoes;
that’s much more forceful.
To bring his own shoes is to say:
I am prepared! And don’t let this journey be withheld from me!
To bring my shoes—yes,
to cradle the massive, worn load of each size fifteen ship
and to dump it abruptly, for emphasis, at my feet—
this means:
the time has come, my father,
and can you deny your own destiny?

If all else fails,
there’s the incantation,
the syllable of power.
The hard ‘g’ means: pay attention!
(in the prophets’ terms: behold!)
And then the long ‘o’ either swells into a
bright sound of hope,
or else drags out long and plaintive:
an aching lament, the age-old burden
(the pain of separation the prophets once spoke).
Armed with this spell, he walks up to me like Moses to Pharaoh.
Go? he says. Go. Go!

When he asks, I am always busy.
When he asks, I have work to do. Feet to rest, and bones.
But when my son struggles for these signs
like a drowning man for air,
who am I to resist?
Who am I not to offer him the sweet relief
of knowing absolutely that he has been understood?

We go outside (I tell myself)
for two minutes. Just two minutes.
But soon spring is thawing my tundra-hard heart,
Soon, we cannot be contained even by the backyard.

Under the concrete of the driveway, garden snakes are stirring.
My son and I see one’s striped body from behind a leaning rock
and I remember my father, who taught me love and reverence
when he pulled our van over all at once and stepped out,
when he carried a snake away from the dangers of the road’s warm asphalt,
when he laid it down safe on the soft ground
one spring. Long ago.

WIZ takes on two new marvelous creatures

Vecchio_Bruegel_Landscape_of_Paradise_and_the_Loading_of_the_Animals_in_Noah's Ark2

As Wilderness Interface Zone approaches its third birthday, it’s growing up a little.  Formalist poet Jonathon Penny has consented to join WIZ’s literary ecotone in the role of contributing editor. Jonathon has a keen eye for the belles-lettres.  Beside being a wonderful poet possessing a unique voice, he took his MA in Renaissance literature at BYU and his PhD in 20th Century British literature from the University of Ottawa. He has taught at universities in the U.S. and Canada, and now lives with his family in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates where he is Assistant Professor of English at UAE University. He has published on Wyndham Lewis and apocalyptic literature and is currently at work on several books of poetry for precocious pipsqueaks under the penname “Professor Percival P. Pennywhistle.” Bits and pieces may be found here. In addition to verse published on WIZ, his poetry has appeared at Victorian Violet Press and in Gangway Magazine and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Several of his poems have also been published in the landmark, recently released poetry anthology, Fire in the Pasture, from Peculiar Pages Press.  Welcome, Jonathon!

Also joining WIZ as a contributing writer is Val K., a soon-to-be fifteen-year-old aspiring naturalist and fantasy writer.  She has participated in NaNoWriMo since she was twelve years old and has successfully completed three novels.  She also writes short stories, articles, and story serials.  She lives in a corner of southeastern Utah with her family, her carnivorous plants and her two cats. She has previously published in Moab Poets and Writers’ Desert Voices and also on WIZ.  Besides writing, her hobbies include drawing, biking, weaving, hiking, catching snakes, rescuing helpless creatures from her cats, and beadwork.  She is a voracious reader.  Welcome, Val K.!

Conversion by Judith Curtis

(Boulder City, Nevada)

I did not know I was from the desert
when I moved to this hell of heat
that engulfed, stifled, weighed down leaden.

I pouted and sweltered that first summer
while sauna winds desiccated Spring bushes
into brittle skeletons whose sapped roots
cowered with reptiles under charred, rock pavement.
Then the heat gave way to a docile winter
so warm there were roses for Christmas,
robins in January, a mere dusting of snow and
I didn’t care if I was ever cold again.

I learned to worship rain when Spring erupted
through the lace of lizard trails on sand dunes
in masses of verbena and evening primrose;
bluebells and gold poppies tumbling over railroad tracks;
roadsides mottled beaver tail magenta and lupine blue,
wafting fragrance into all the crevices of town.

I walked out one afternoon to see virga
from heaped clouds in all that vast sky
and the sun setting in red fire
against hills of dusky purple-gray.

An egret up from the river flew by,
a piece of torn gauze carried on the wind,
a ragged flag of surrender;
and I knew that I was home.

_____________________________________________________________

To read Judith’s bio and more of her poetry here on WIZ, go here and here.

*contest entry*

Desert Maiden by Judith Curtis

In Spring she lays her winter buckskin by,
bathes her brown skin in gentle rains
then dons a robe of filmy green.

From a hidden place in the earth
she brings her cache of jewels;
slips circlets of golden poppies round her arms,
drapes turquoise lupine about her neck,
anoints herself with scent of evening primrose,
white silver in the moonlight.

Wind, smitten by her beauty,
rushes from the west to dance with her.
He howls ancient love chants to her.

Jealous Sun hears;
he sees them whirling.
When she casts aside her robe and jewels
he forces wind away
and pours down love heat
on her tawny body.

Overcome, she lies stricken by searing rays,
cooled only by the passionate summer tears
of Sun’s longing.

_____________________________________________________________________

Judith has been a Master Gardner and a volunteer at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix for twenty years. She loves the desert and often writes about it in her poetry. She has degrees from BYU, Boston University and a Creative Writing certificate from Phoenix Community College. She has had poems published in Irreantum, Dialogue, Segullah, and Exponent II.  Last March she participated in a reading tour of Mormon  women  writers organized by Dr. Holly Welker and Dr. Joanna Brooks. She also enjoys playing duets with the birds in the backyard on her Native American flute.  Judith is also the poetry editor for Exponent II.  You can reach the online forum for Exponent II here.

To read another poem by Judith published on WIZ, go here.

*contest entry*

Homecoming by Carla Martin-Wood

The air is a-buzz with wings
bird to butterfly
bee to dragonfly
flit, fly and flutter by

cherry trees lifting petticoats to heaven
full-blossomed defiance
caught mid-cartwheel
kicking up chaos
in can-can regalia
long-limbed show-offs
in ruffles and bloomers
late and early
daffodils and Japanese magnolia
crocus and iris and tulips cover places
old winter (that cold-handed lover)
has relinquished at last
bright spindled forsythia
lilies and redbud
double flowering peach
too much is not enough

this is earth in an Easter dress

and all because Persephone
called ahead to say
Mama – I’m comin’ home!

_______________________________________________________________

Four times nominated for The Pushcart Prize, Carla Martin-Wood is the author of the recently released Songs from the Web (encore), as well as One Flew East, Flight Risk and How we are loved, all full-length collections of her poetry (Fortunate Childe Publications). She has authored seven chapbooks: Songs from the Web (Bitter Wine Press); Garden of Regret and Redheaded Stepchild (both Pudding House Chapbook Series); Feed Sack Majesty, HerStory, and The Last Magick (all Fortunate Childe Publications); and Absinthe & Valentines (Flutter Press). Carla’s work also appears in the following anthologies:  Love Poems & Other Messages for Bruce Springsteen and Casting the Nines (both Pudding House Publications); Lilith: a collection of women’s writes and Postcards from Eve (both Fortunate Childe Publications); and From the Front Porch (Silver Boomer Books). Her work has appeared in a plethora of journals in the US, England, and Ireland since 1978. She was recently nominated by Flutter Poetry Journal for Best of the Net 2010. Carla is listed in the Poets & Writers Directory at www.pw.org. To see more of Carla’s poetry on WIZ go here and here.

“Homecoming” was previously published in Leaf Garden Press.

*contest entry*

WIZ’s 2011 Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration begins!

800px-Western_Meadowlark_singing

Light’s rise sparks bright blooms:
birdsong, fields of it, vining–
spring’s first green flourish.

These mornings, I step outside my back door to hear the hush of winter thrown off by a clamor of birdsong–the crackle of starlings, jazzy riffs of purple house finches, a lonely two-syllable call from a flycatcher,  screeches and churrings of magpies, ravens’ gravelly croaks, a woodpecker drumming a juniper tree, jangling songs of meadowlarks outshouting everyone.  Quite stunning, this send-off of the season of low, cold light.  And I can’t help but detect in the intertwining of different avian dialects the bloom of flowery beauty and signature fragrances of meaning.

The language of the birds, or the green language, is the mythical, magical language of wisdom and divine insight thought to pass between birds and those humans with ears to hear the music of the cosmos with which birdsong is thought to be impregnated.  Some traditions equate la langue verte with the adamic or perfect language.  Many folks might consider any relation between birdsong and human utterances and comprehension illusory.  But if you listen closely, you will hear chirps in the language of many species ranging from rodents (prairie dogs’ alarm calls sound bird-ish, and the noisy grasshopper mouse chirrups constantly) to cats (chirps and trills) to amphibians (our Woodhouse toads pip at us) to insects to puppies to people–especially babies.  My nearly 19-year-old disabled daughter, who can understand more words than she can say, chirps, hoots, and trills in response to questions and other words of address.  After nearly two decades of studying her bird-like, tonal language, I think I can rightly claim that I’ve gained from it deep, magical insight–including into the quiddity of human expression.  Because of my experience with her and what I think I hear in the language of birds and other animals and insects, I’ve begun to wonder if, rather than acting as the basic phoneme of  a foreign language spoken by creatures with which we think ourselves to have little in common, the chirp might just lie at the root of human expression.

Whatever else it’s said to be, the mythical language of the birds is highly poetic, layered with multiple strata of meaning, playful, punful, sliding, gliding, beguiling to the ear when performed aloud, and, when conveyed in written interchange, deeply engaging of the mind’s inner ear.

For WIZ’s 2011 Spring Poetry Runoff and Celebration, let’s see if we can outshine the birds in their spring ceremonies.  Human language can be just as green and gorgeous, just as textured and as alluring as the language of the birds.  And when it comes to the opening of new prospects and possibilities, human language can have no rival.  Even the language of the birds lags behind the best effects of the best human language: opening-the-possibilities acts of authentic creation.  Poetry, with its multifaceted, many-leveled effects and metaphoric prowess–its strength for getting across–can create, so to speak, more world.  As John D. Niles says in Homo Narrans: The Poetics and Anthropology of Oral Narrative, “It is through such symbolic mental activities [as storytelling and poetry] that people have gained the ability to create themselves as human beings and thereby transform the world of nature into shapes not known before.”

So this Spring Poetry Runoff, let’s go green in our language.  I don’t mean Green, as in supportive of social or political movements touting environmental protection.  In some cases, that language is the least green of all.  I mean let’s go green, as in producing living, doing, being language that acts to open possibilities by virtue of its creative élan.  I mean let’s give out words that don’t just describe experience, they create experience, providing raw materials that others can recombine for their own narrative needs, thus altering, here and there, world and worlds.   Referencing John Miles Foley, Niles  calls this cosmoplastic, or “world-building” energy of human language, “wordpower.”

During this year’s Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration, we’ll not only be running the poetry contest with prizes in the Most Popular Vote Award and Admin Award categories but also an open-invitation haiku chain (a developing tradition on WIZ), a non-competing category for those poets wishing to participate in the Spring Poetry Runoff just for fun, the Runoff Rerun (re-publishing of one of last year’s poems), and other activities.

Hope you join in.  It’s spring.  Let’s sing it up.

To review submission deadlines, rules, voting procedures, and prizes, go here.

________________________________________________________________________

Photo of singing western meadowlark by Alan Vernon.

Happy Birthday to us: WIZ turns 2!

Today WIZ celebrates its birth of two years ago (thanks again, Wm Morris) and its continued good health and growth.  Profound thanks are due its readers and contributors–as Sam says to Captain Faramir, you’ve shown your quality. I think Wilderness Interface Zone’s dream of building the ground story of a meeting place for Mormon and non-Mormon readers and writers of nature literature is being realized and showing boundless prospects for the future.  Debts of gratitude are due to be paid its supporters.

As part of its modest celebratory events, WIZ will post two Retro Reviews of vintage movies and offer copies of those movies in DVD form as gifts to interested audience members and WIZ contributors who comment on the review posts.  Each movie fits the Love of Nature, Nature of Love Month and has nature as a key element of its story, either as setting or plot vehicle.

How to get a free movie: Read the Retro Review I post today and/or the one I’ll post Monday, February 28. All readers need do is post a comment at the Retro Review and that will win each unique commenter one free copy of the movie under review.   I’m hoping that each Retro Review post garners 10 comments by unique commenters, but if they go over that, I think we’ll be able to meet demand.  If the unanticipated happens and commenters go way over the expected number, I may impose a cut off limit just to keep my sanity intact.

Thanks so much, loyal readers, for following WIZ’s content and posting comments, and deepest thanks to our contributors, who have heartily and with a great show of talent stepped up to provide for WIZ’s success.  I’m looking forward to this next year, which I anticipate to be exciting and filled with good prospects.

Profoundest thanks, friends.  This round’s two Retro Reviews will feature the films The Charge at Feather River starring Guy Madison and Helen Westcott and South of Pago Pago starring Francis Farmer and John Hall.  Today’s Retro Review is The Charge at Feather River.