A few weeks ago I had a surprise walk with Jonathan Skinner, professor of eco poetry at Warwick University. Jonathan also happens to be a friend of Cecilia Vicuña’s which is another project I am working on #ThreadandWord.

Jonathan took me on a walk in the bluebell woods on the campus and shared some of the handouts he uses with his MA students.One of the entries was a quote from a Larry Eigner poem :

“ a poem can be like walking down a street and noticing things, extending itself without obscurity or too much effort”

On Jonathan’s handout this quote appears under the heading, WALKING.

I have been spending some of my time considering this line and researching Larry Eigner and the Black Mountain Poets who were associated with the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina. These poets, including Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Robert Duncan, promoted a nontraditional poetics described by Olson in 1950 as “projective verse.”

Printed below is shadows, birds, by Larry Eigner.

s h a d o w s , b i r d s,

wake up

birch trees
in the wind’s web

before what minutes, exposition
of mankind

stony light turned

how much
the number

the vague soon again

what change in the parts

© 1968, Larry Eigner, courtesy of the Eigner Estate
From: Poetry, Vol. 111, No. 6, March, 1968

Olson advocated an improvisational, open-form approach to poetic composition, driven by the natural patterns of breath and utterance. Born with cerebral palsy, Eigner made use of a wheelchair throughout his life, he is associated with the Black Mountain Poets.

This week the Walking with The Waste Land group had their May walk in collaboration with the Garden Gate community in Margate.For more about this walk,A walk in May with The Garden Gate

I had the good fortune to spend some time walking with Charlotte. Breath is one of the things we were speaking about during our walk. Charlotte explained to me that she has cerebral palsy, she had walked from Broadstairs to the Garden Gate to join us for the walk. Charlotte also explained that she finds walking calming. We spoke about Larry Eigner and it has led us both on a wonderful trail of discovery.

We hope to make some poetry with the group on our next walk on June 8th, meeting at the Garden Gate at 10 am. Let me know if you’d like to join us!