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Watershed festival celebrates poetry

By Rachel Searles Special to the Daily Planet
Monday September 10, 2001

Children played and adults relaxed under the warm fall sun Saturday at the sixth annual Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival Saturday afternoon in Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Park. 

“A poem makes us see everything for the first time,” read Chicano poet Francisco Alarcón in a short poem expressing the hope that an afternoon of poetry would raise environmental consciousness.” 

“We are nature,” said Poetry Flash editor Joyce Jenkins. “Whatever happens to us is part of nature. The festival brings people together and then you start saving the earth by informing people and getting them to think about it.” 

Poets from grade school students to Beat celebrity Gary Snyder read their poetry to an attentive audience. Under multicolored banners that flapped in the breeze, a few hackey sack players kicked a ball back and forth as people drifted in from the sidewalks. 

“Without a thought you have covered my naked, sacred body with a garment of cement. I feel restricted; I cannot dance and undulate my rippling torso where I have been paved over, deforested, wrapped in plastic,” read renowned bare-breasted activist “La Tigresa” (Dona Nieto), in “I am the Goddess,” an erotic plea of the river to be released of her artificial bondage.  

“Ode to tomatoes, they make friends anywhere,” read Alarcón on a more humorous note from his collection of children’s books. Other poets at the festival included Maxine Hong Kingston, Chris Olander, Patti Trimble, and Robert Hass, as well as student poets from the