Fahrenheit451in Fitchburg MA

Fahrenheit_451_1st_ed_coverI feel like I am smack in the thick of it here in Fitchburg, MA, were the cultural action is.

Fahrenheit 451 is being sponsored by Fitchburg State University, Fitchburg Public Library, Fitchburg Historical Society, Fitchburg Art Museum and Rollstone Studios. Members around the city are reading the book after so many years. There will be plays, art exhibits, book reads, discussions, stage performance, staged reading, lectures, library book club, altered books workshop, censorship roundtable discussion, film screening and progressive art exhibition day.

Now really, has a city ever done this before? I love living here. Life is rich, connected, inclusive and educational.

Cultural Series Make Art not War The Cats of Mirikitani

The Cats of Mirikitani

The Cats of Mirikitani

You are invited to First Parish UU Monthly Cultural Series, 923 Main Street, Fitchburg, downstairs, Sunday, Sept. 15 at 2 pm. This will be an informative film, with speaker Professor Elizabeth Gordon leading us in a discussion afterwards about the film, thoughts on social justice issue of homelessness. Learn from an artist who was homeless. See how Jimmy Marikitani saw the world leading up to 9/11 through his art.

Asian bites will be provided for refreshments.

Fitchburg Art Museum and CMAAC Farmers Market

PRESS RELEASE

Friends, Locavors, and Supporters of the Arts

Please join us at the “Art of Buying Local” Farmers’ Market
Fitchburg Art Museum
Thursday, July 11, 3 – 6:30 pm
25 Merriam Parkway, Fitchburg, MA

There will be fresh local fruits and vegetables, artisan bread, locally made soaps and lotions, local honey, fun activities for the kids, live music, locally made soy candles, photography and local artists, live cooking demos, free fresh salsa and more.

Mary Ellen Ryall, author of The Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book and My Name is Butterfly,
will be selling and signing her books and talk on importance of pollinators.

See the 78th Regional Exhibition of Art and Craft, one of the oldest exhibitions of its kind in New England. This special exhibition includes all medium of expression including painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, mixed-media, and crafts  (including jewelry and fiber art). The aim of this exhibit is to encourage, discover, support, and display the best regional talent.

Admission to the Farmers’ Market and Art Museum is FREE from 3 – 6:30 pm

Bring the whole family!

For more information contact:
Sheila Lumi
CMAAC
Market Manager
(978)582-9382
slumi@verizon.netImage

Butterfly Poetry and Critique by Elizabeth Gordon

Elizabeth Gordon

Elizabeth Gordon

 A New Poem, with Some Comments on Its Origin by Elizabeth Gordon

fall monarch butterfly

fall monarch butterfly

MONARCH
for Mary Ellen
What is love for
if not to give
to a poisonous insect?
Love should be challenging.
Where’s the thrill
in loving puppies or ponies
dimpled babies or cheery daffodils?
Love instead
the wormlike larva
whose first meal is the eggshell it squirmed from
who by its own gluttony outgrows its body four times
and four times eats its own shedded skin
before wrapping itself inside a green tomb
that morphs into a womb
and wetly births
a six-legged thing
with the compound eyes of a fly
a tongue like a coiled spring
and silent beating black-veined wings.
Love the one who will not cuddle in your lap
who cannot admire or obey or exude perfume
whose color says
consider this a warning.
Love anyway.
Love the one who takes your hospitality
and your nectary hope
and the prayers you pray
and leaves you
always leaves you
staring at the sky
your eyes stinging in the wind
waiting for that spark of orange fire
to light your world again.
____________________________________________

Background:

I’d been invited to participate in a poetry reading in honor of Earth Day 2013 at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist church, which my husband and I had recently joined. But what to read?

Always heedful—perhaps too heedful—of others’ expectations, I assumed most people would be anticipating poetry that celebrated the glories of nature: the sunrises and sunsets, the flowers, the seasons, the birdsong, the purple mountains’ majesty—you get the picture. Not that I don’t find “nature” glorious (though even the attempt to define nature, much less enumerate its glories, leads to its own predicaments), but the nature in my poems has seldom been the kind that’s traditionally celebrated. Meaning, I suppose, that it’s neither inspirational nor ephemeral. I like things gritty. Always have.

When others search the skies for rainbows, I’m squatting in the leaf duff, budging half-rotten logs, hoping to meet the shy creatures hiding in that beautiful, dank darkness. Maybe because I felt icky about myself for much of my childhood (okay, for much of my adulthood too), I’m drawn to facets of the planet that most others find icky, or at least not worthy of positive attention. These are my peeps: the silent, coiled and uncoiling snake; the slow and sticky-skinned salamander; the mantis twisting her neck in a measured swivel; the tiny, purposeful ant bearing his impossible load; the spent dairy cow, knees crumpling, being thrashed to keep her walking those final, painful steps toward the kill line.

On the other hand—and, somehow, there must always be an other hand—I’d met an amazing woman at the UU who seemed to me to embody a love and zeal for the natural world that was based not on hokey clichés but on genuine knowledge. Mary Ellen Ryall puts her science and her wisdom and her concern into action. This I admire immensely. Though she is known primarily for her expertise on butterflies, especially the monarch, Mary Ellen understands that the monarch is part of something much, much bigger—the “biotic community” that Aldo Leopold describes in A Sand County Almanac(1948):

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

I decided I wanted to write a new poem for the Earth Day reading, and since I’d been so inspired by Mary Ellen’s grace, intelligence, and passion for all earth’s inhabitants, I thought I’d try to write one for her. Of course, it had to be about her beloved monarch butterfly. But me being me, I knew that my poem had to be gritty, by which I mean not ugly or intentionally bleak, but simply real. And it occurred to me that the way to do this would be to write a poem that reminded us that butterflies belong to that despised category of animal life colloquially known as “bugs.” Scientifically, the classInsecta, which includes reviled species such as flies, mosquitos, termites, wasps, and cockroaches. Somehow, because our culture has sentimentalized and romanticized butterflies as symbols of beauty, the fact that they are (poisonous!) insects (and not “flying flowers”) escapes us.

(There’s a wonderful short story, “Butterflies,” by Maori author Patricia Grace that hinges on, among other things, the disconnect between those who understand the butterfly as a biological creature and those for whom it is merely the representation of an idea. When I teach this story in my college writing classes, almost every student—not surprisingly—fails to “get it.” Does our biotic community’s critical condition have anything to do with the fact that we’ve allowed connotation to obscure denotation? I believe so.)

That’s why my poem emphasizes the creatureliness, not the symbolization, of the monarch. To honor a thing, we must know it, insofar as we can, for what it is, which to me is more important than what itmeans—or rather, maybe I’m trying to say that what something means cannot/should not be distinct from what it actually is. Which reminds me of the last lines of Archibald Macleish’s poem “Ars Poetica”:

        A poem should not mean

        But be.

Natural Pollinator Habitat at Gateway Park

Fitchburg, MA

May 21, 2013

ImageSheila Lumi, Director, Central Massachusetts Art and Agriculture Coalition, came by The Sundial to pick me up this morning. She helped load three donated bags of good potting soil into her van. I wasn’t much help with a bad back. Next stop was Dunkin Donuts for much needed coffee.  I had my game plan for evaluating the Natural Pollinator Habitat. ImageWith camera in hand, I walked into the knee high clover.

White cabbage butterflies (Pieris oleracea) were flitting about. Easy to spot with dark spot on wings and dark tip on edge of wings. One landed on blue-violet blooming hairy vetch (Vicia villosa).  Black mustard plants and cabbage family are host plants. I am uncertain at this point if mustard plant is growing in habitat. I suspect so because the community gardens haven’t been planted yet. According to Live Science, researchers reported Sept. 5 in the journal PLoS ONE that black mustard gives off a specific scent when large cabbage white butterflies (Pieris brassicae), as they are called, lay eggs on it. This odor both repels other pregnant butterflies from laying more eggs on the plant and attracts two species of parasitic waspsTrichogramma brassicae and Cotesia glomerata. The wasps swoop in and attack the butterfly eggs and the caterpillars that have hatched from them, the researchers said. This defense mechanism prevents a colony of caterpillars from feasting on its leaves. (In return, the wasps parasitize, or live off, these eggs.) The study was led by Nina Fatouros, of Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Read the whole store at http://www.livescience.com/22981-plants-parasitic-wasps-butterfly-battle.html

 At least three yellow swallowtails were seen flying about. ImageTheir host plant is birch, cherry and other trees. Couldn’t tell what species of swallowtail because none were near where I was doing field work. Then I saw the smallest blue azule butterfly ever seen. It was smaller than the size of my little finger’s nail. Imagine that, so tiny.

ImageStephen Twining stopped by. He had suggested that a path be implemented to a lovely metal bench that is screwed into a cement base. Right now, it is inaccessible, unless you walk through knee high plants.  Sheila will network with her circles and see what she can come up with. She is thinking that a curved wood chip path would be a solution. Mowing a path might be less work. We found this out at Restored Remnant Tallgrass Prairie in Shell Lake, WI. All three of us agreed that the sound of water was a lovely feature here. A little later when I was alone at the habitat I heard lots of crickets singing. It was pure joy.

 Stephen and Sheila helped carry three 40 lb. bags of good topsoil to a location that was off the beaten path. It was there I planted three mounds of different species of sunflower. I wanted the site to have an annual native plant that would pop color and provide food for birds come fall and winter. I plan to go back after the sunflowers sprout and plant a squash ground cover in between the sunflowers. That way the leaves will shield sunflower roots. Climbing beans will be planted within the mix to add nitrogen to the soil.

I am very happy with the habitat. I did not see any invasive species within the site. Of course this is a preliminary look. I did see some native grasses and shrubs in clumps.  You know I will be back.

 

A New Natural Pollinator Habitat is Born

I am thrilled to share that Mary Ellen Ryall, Butterfly Woman Publishing owner and Happy Tonics, Inc. board member, will be offering environmental education programs at Gateway Park along the Nashua River in Fitchburg, MA. Shelia Lumi, director, Central Massachusetts Art and Agriculture Coalition, will work with Ryall in offering environmental projects and gardening talks at the park. There is a Community Garden within the park that Lumi will be in charge of. She is the director of the monthly local Fitchburg Farmers Market at Fitchburg Art Museum.

Both Lumi and Ryall are excited to collaborate on Environmental Education at Gateway Park in the summer of 2013. Stay tuned for more news.Image.

POETRY READING for EARTH DAY

Lobilia cardinalis

Lobilia cardinalis copyright Cindy Dyer

EARTH DAY
POETRY READINGS
Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm

First Parish Presents Earth Day Poetry Reading
FITCHBURG, MASSACHUSETTS—In honor of Earth Day and National Poetry Month, First Parish Church presents a free poetry reading on Sunday, April 21, 2:00 p.m., at 923 Main Street,
Upper Common, Fitchburg.

All poetry lovers are invited, and free refreshments will be provided.

Readings by Patricia Caspers, Lori Ann Tessier,
Elizabeth Gordon, and Trish Crapo
Followed by an open mic session.
All are welcome to attend and recite.
FREE! Refreshments. Donations gratefully accepted.

Patricia Caspers is an award-winning poet whose work has appeared recently in Ploughshares, Futurecycle, and The Mom Egg. She holds an MFA from Mills College and edits poetry for the online journal, Prick of the Spindle.

Lori Ann Tessier is an educational tutor and a Lunenburg resident who has been writing poetry for 15 years. Her poetry, which covers a wide range of themes and motifs, is inspired by nature.

Elizabeth Gordon is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet whose work has appeared in several journals as well as in anthologies such as Cheers to Muses: Contemporary Works by Asian Women and How We Live Now: Contemporary Multicultural Literature. Elizabeth holds an MFA from Brown University.

Trish Crapo writes a poetry column for the Greenfield, MA Recorder and reviewsfiction for the Women’s Review of Books. Her poetry has appeared in Southern Poetry Review, Sanctuary, and the national column, American Life in Poetry, among other places. Trish will co-lead a workshop at this year’s Massachusetts Poetry Festival.

Winter sunset Fitchburg

Winter sunset Fitchburg

The Earth Day Poetry Reading is the first event of the First Parish Cultural Series, a program that will feature a different cultural activity each month.
First Parish Fitchburg, which strives for justice, equity, and compassion, is an open and affirming congregation dedicated to recognizing the inherent worth and dignity of every person.