The Lumberjack student newspaper
Poet Kirk Lumpkin as MC blue jay during Arcata Arts Alive poetry reading at Northtown Books on Friday April 12.| Photo by T.William Wallin

Eco-Poets take the stage

Three poets read for national poetry month at Northtown Books

Three poets read for national poetry month at Northtown Books

As climate change and loss of natural landscapes increase every year, what else is there to do but write poetry about it?

Humboldt County poet laureate Jerry Martien was joined by Kirk Lumpkin and Vinnie Peloso for a night of poetry at Northtown Books during Arcata Arts Alive. These poets were three of 149 contributors to “Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California,” an anthology of poetry dedicated to California’s ecology.

“All the proceeds and profits of this book goes to environmental organizations,” Peloso said to the crowd of eager listeners.

Poet Vinnie Peloso reads from “Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California” during Arcata Arts Alive poetry reading at Northtown Books on Friday April 12. | Photo by T. William Wallin

Peloso’s poems are in a section called “Coastal Redwoods” which he said was ironic because he grew up in “the wilds of New Jersey.” Peloso proceeded to tell the crowd of his first experience with a redwood tree.

He was driving in New Jersey toward what he thought was a redwood tree and the closer he got, the more and more he was convinced it was a redwood tree.

“I realized it wasn’t a redwood tree,” Peloso said. “It wasn’t even a tree at all. It was a cell phone tower.”

The first poem Peloso read was “Wounded.” This poem was written 25 years ago and revised 22 times before it was published in this anthology. Although Peloso is a published poet he acknowledged that poems must be revised from time to time.

His poem begins with walking in the old grove redwoods that make up the Arcata Community Forest. The narrator of the poem observes felled trees among younger trees and says of the scene it makes “it harder to meet these trees unwounded”.

Our very own poet laureate, Jerry Martien, was the closing poet to end the night. Martien said the other two poets were “stalwarts of poetry” and for many years held down the poetry series at the local Jambalaya Club.

Humboldt County poet laureate, Jerry Martien, reads his poem “In the Pines” during Arcata Arts Alive at Northtown Books on Friday April 12, 2019. T.William Wallin

He even made a quick quip towards the recent shutting down of KHSU by saying the two poets held reading series for the local radio station but “I don’t even remember what its called anymore.” Martien read three end-of-summer love poems from lament to early spring.

“Willow along the trail, beginning to yellow, dry sand on the dune face refusing to hold,” began Martien’s first poem, called “In the Pines.” “Each grain separate and distinct, wanting to be part of the whole again.”

Between each pause Martien sets a visionary scene of environment while simultaneously expressing the contemplations that come with the end of the summer season. “In the Pines” is set as a walk through the Manila Dunes. The coastal forest landscape comes to life and the listener can smell the salty sea air of the Pacific. Martien’s second poem is a journey East outside of Humboldt County, “when the rain finally stopped,” sometime after spring.

“At the summit of the coast range fog stops, we go out of Mad River drainage down into Redwood Creek, up again to Willow Creek to follow Trinity,” begins Martien’s poem “Losing the Lines.” “Cross over to another country, so long salt, greetings mountain air.”

Poet Kirk Lumpkin reads an ode to poison oak during Arcata Arts Alive poetry reading at Northtown Books on Friday April 12. | Photo by T. William Wallin

The real stealer of the show was Kirk Lumpkin of Mendocino County. Because he traveled such a far distance he was given more time than the other two poets, which was needed for a costume change. Lumpkin read a couple of poems then dragged a box towards the stage. Tucked inside were two bird suits, beak and all.

Lumpkin took on the persona of a Blue Jay and a Steller’s Jay. But purposely dropped off the apostrophe that follows Steller when introducing his alter-ego.

Lumpkin rapped as MC Steller and MC Blue Jay in the full-body bird costumes and made the performance interactive by having the audience make bird sounds during the chorus.

Poet Kirk Lumpkin as MC blue jay during Arcata Arts Alive poetry reading at Northtown Books on Friday April 12, 2019. | Photo by T.William Wallin

Every patron of the poetry reading was cawing, “Vreep,” and dipping in their seats, becoming one with Lumpkin’s poetry raps.

Moments like these might be seen as odd elsewhere, but are the missing ingredients that sets Humboldt apart as a unique location in Calif.

Share This Post

More Stories

Nina G uses comedy to start conversations

During the virtual comedy event held by the SDRC, Nina Ghiselli tells her story and emphasizes the importance of student disability resources within schools.

It’s not just the Capitol Police

As the world watched from their televisions on January 6, we witnessed scenes unfold before our eyes that were, to many, unimaginable: supporters of President Trump swarmed the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, then proceeded to break in and

The San Jose State University Football Team Comes to Humboldt

On a day’s notice from administration, the SJSU football team spends a week and a half in Humboldt practicing because their county did not allow it. Students react to their presence on campus in the midst of a pandemic. Directed

Homelessness in Humboldt, CA

This is the first trailer of a homeless documentary created by HSU students. We have spent months filming and will continue to film throughout the next year. Follow the heartbreaking stories of the homeless community around Humboldt county and the

Thrifty Arcata

Taking a tour of the local thrift shops in Arcata during the COVID-19 pandemic. Directed and produced by Skylar Gaven.

House Plants Generate Peace and Meaning During the Pandemic

Three different people with the same love for plants! House plants have become quite popular these days especially since we’re all basically stuck inside during the pandemic. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but these beautiful green oxygen-makers provide more

Prop 22 represents political favoritism of money over workers’ rights

California’s passing of proposition 22 on Nov. 5 represents a frustrating history of workers’ rights being trampled by the overwhelming influence of greed in politics.  This proposition forces app-based workers to be classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. This

Remembering Evelyn Andrews 10 months after her passing

By Katelyn Dendas It has been 10 months since my friend, teammate and freshman year dorm mate, Evelyn Andrews, passed away. I don’t remember what the grief counselor said or what transpired after that Monday, but I do remember arriving

Protestors seek to defund HSUPD

Two local, activist organizations work together to stage a sit-in against Humboldt State’s police department.

Getting stuck on the Trump train

Writer Anthony Aragon details his experience of accidentally joining a pro-Trump car rally.

Justin Turner exposes the World Series to COVID-19

Justin Turner didn’t need to be the story in the wake of the Dodgers’ first World Series victory in 32 years. Instead here we are, wondering what sort of, if any, punishment Major League Baseball will decide to hand down

Four more years of fear

News Editor Carlos Holguin explains why he is worried about the next four years.

Dismal democracy

The Lumberjack editorial staff comments on America’s flawed electoral system As the world watches the United States 2020 election results, waiting for our pseudodemocratic process to churn out a new president, historically unprecedented voting methods misrepresents the reported Election Day

The Mario triple pack invokes a nostalgia attack

When I was a child, the first video game system I owned was a Nintendo 64. Among the games I played was Super Mario 64. I played it all the time and when I wasn’t playing it, I was lying

Women’s lacrosse drops their competitive season

Greta Roberts, president and player of Humboldt State University’s women’s lacrosse team, made the decision with her coach and teammates to cancel the upcoming spring season. The team decided that not being able to recruit in the fall would be

Dobby’s proposition opinions

Haven’t voted yet? Well, you’re running out of time. Here’s a quick rundown of California’s propositions on the ballot this year

Corporations buy out propositions

In a series of general and misleading advertisements, corporate backers of Propositions 22 and 23 show their grubby hands

CDOR continues virtually

The Campus and Community Dialogue On Race returns covering global justice for Black Lives.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Local food management practices of the Tolowa Dee-ni, Yurok and other indigenous peoples.

Humboldt State Admin attempts to discredit the Lumberjack

***A Lumberjack editorial represents both the majority opinion of the student newspaper’s editorial board, nine editors, as well as the overwhelming majority of Humboldt State University’s student body. Collectively, an editorial echos, embodies and advocates for community beliefs.*** Insensitive communications

Music of the Moment 6

21 Savage and Metro Boomin drop a classic with “Savage Mode II”

Spartans arrive at HSU despite campus concerns

***Editor’s note: SJSU football program was tested in congruence with Mountain West conference guidelines*** The Spartans have arrived and this time they’re not carrying spears or shields. Instead the San Jose State football team stepped onto the Humboldt State campus

Music of the Moment 5

After shooting Megan Thee Stallion, Tory Lanez cancels himself

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Comparisons between episodes of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone and our own dismal reality

Music of the Moment 4

YoungBoy Never Broke Again dodges the sophomore slump with his new album “Top.”

Self-Care Cuts

Changing your hair to change your life

HSU Seaweed Farm sets sail

The first commercially-approved seaweed farm in California will be on the map.

Music of the Moment 3

For better or worse, Big Sean is likely gone for good.

More Layers, More Protection?

Humboldt State demands double masking on campus, does more layers equal more protection?

The Ethnic Studies Bill is a Blessing

Ethnic Studies will thankfully become mandatory for all California State University students – as it should be.

The Complex Interface of Humans and Wildfires

How fire suppression is a mixed bag in Humboldt County Every fire season, blankets of smoke roll over Humboldt County. Here on the coast, that’s as close to wildfires as some of us get. But our practice of fire suppression

Defund HSU’s Police Department

Incidents of racism from the former UPD Chief, past examples of excessive force from current officers and a shrinking university budget.

How Not To Be Bitten By A Kitten

Please prepare to be prey Congratulations, a baby feline has recently come into your life. If they’re anywhere from 2-18 months, they bite. They see you as prey. Because you are prey. You always have been. You always will be.

Graduating Into Uncharted Waters

HSU graduates attempt to navigate a world turned upside-down by COVID-19 In May, Humboldt State University graduated hundreds of students, as it does every year. Unlike past years, graduates didn’t get to shake hands with their respective dean and receive

HSU Cultural Center Budget Slashed

Associated Students leaves student body devastated after significant reductions in cultural center’s budget.

All aboard the plague ship

Unprecedented times are met with normalized behavior, HSU puts students and community members at higher risk after reopening campus and student housing.

Music of the Moment

The hip-hop community rallies behind the Black Lives Matter Movement

Inside the Immune System

How the body uses multiple levels of defense against foreign intruders

Catcalling Can’t Continue

Verbal harassment toward women is about control and the assertion of gender discrimination