Grassroots Movement – ANNE WALDMAN

owls-770x1024This grassroots movement – I think it will become that, a movement- that supports environmental causes through the arts is crucial to the urgent times we are in. And because it is spearheaded by young artistic visionaries it behooves us to support its mission. I think its ecumenical mix of talent is important, its cultivation of resources is impressive and the intelligence that drives it most inspiring. This isn’t some feel-good, idiot compassion idea. Pathway to Paris is serious about the dire inter-connected situation the whole species and its adjacent neighbors are in. It has the concrete goal of raising awareness and supporting activist organizations like Bill McKibben’s 350 and having an impact on the United Nations meetings in Paris in 2015. The concert I participated in at Le Poisson Rouge was uplifting, – had humanity, wit, insight -and stayed on point. No self-expression indulgence. And it also radiated its communal spirit of mutual support and exertion. It was an honor to have Bill McKibben in the room and we are lucky to witness his example as an eco-warrior. This is just the beginning of what is really going to be a Dark Age with rampage suffering and depletion of resources. And we now inhabit the Anthropocene, where nothing is untouched by the dangerous hand of man. Let’s turn that around, at least lessen the suffering and tune up our intelligence and ethos, with our humanity and the wisdom and panoramic awareness of artistic expression and its palpable beauties. As it says in one Buddhist chant I know “Don’t tarry, don’t tarry!” It is interesting how people are more apt to talk about the end of the world than how to effect climate change, and practice social and cultural revolution, and peace among the warring factions.

I plan to stay involved.

– Anne Waldman, poet and co-founder with Allen Ginsberg of The Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado, the first Buddhist-inspired University in the West.


Meditation from the Green Space

Indeed, Social Justice with all the events around police violence and slaughter of innocent black men, innocent of supposed crimes that warrant murder, and ongoing artistic cultural survival is front and center for many of us. It is a demanding time to be alive and awake and an activist. We need to find the language to express our compassion, our outrage, our cry for a safer world for all the planet’s many complicated and magical and gifted denizens. No Justice, no Peace. And we also need our mythical beasts that haunt our imagination, spirit allies, and the memory of all those that suffered under indigenous genocide, and the endless war machine. Turn it around. The culture needs its artistic legacies otherwise it would be an even darker place, bleak and barren. Can you imagine a world without music? Would you want to live there? The point for me is to stay inspired in the creative work – not to collapse in the face of myriad suffering but to stay connected to truth and beauty and the power of music and poetry to help wake the world up to itself. Can there be beauty and poetry after Auschwitz? There needs to be. Resist the temptation to shut down one’s perceptions and collapse into nihilism. There is still plutonium in the soil at the former Rocky Flats Nuclear Plant near Boulder, Colorado where those of us working at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University demonstrated and were arrested in the 1970s. One continues to stay on the case –keep it front and center in the heart and mind. The ground, although the plant is gone, is still toxic. And remember: Al Qaeda originally wanted to target Indian Point, nuclear plant up river from New York City. We could indeed be glowing for a quarter of a million years! Pathway to Paris is a clarion call and an urgent one, like anti-nuke activism. A call to our best compassionate selves. An international movement demanding for de-carbonization and an effective agreement in Paris by the end of 2015 and ways to implement this country to country so as to stave off more extreme climate disruption. It is a raising of consciousness and is spearheaded here locally and everywhere by artists- musicians and poets – many of them young and with terrific aspiration. Particular events are scheduled here in NYC, in Montreal and in Paris over the next months. Some of us see ourselves as “infrastructure artists” committed to helping wake others up to the profound and dire issues in our Anthropocene, this geological age we are in (replacing the Holocene) where nothing is free from the hand of man, a meddling and dangerous enemy and a threat to a balanced peaceable kingdom on Planet Earth. Pathway to Paris wants to turn that around as much as possible and as irreparable as that might seem. All of us are profoundly alarmed by the prospect of major loss and dystopia and of facing a truly Dark Age where as one Buddhist chant goes “the sky is full of purple clouds of sickness”. The admonition in the chant of “Don’t tarry, don’t tarry” could not be more relevant. Allen Ginsberg has some memorable lines in his poem “Memory Gardens”: And while I’m here I’ll do the work And what’s the work? To ease the pain of living Everything else, drunken dumbshow… Rather then feeling disempowered, Pathway to Paris is a means of channeling our collective intelligence and aspiration and empathy rousing response with adamantine – diamond-like political will and action. On thinks of neurological pathways, pathways to heart and mind and sense perception. Pathway here is social and artistic movement where the science is irrefutable. We are just in the beginning of a Dark time where we see whole species disappear, landforms morph, and immense suffering in many directions all over the world. The weakest the poorest are the most vulnerable to flood and famine and earthquake (witness the tragedy and horror in Nepal), but no one gets out alive…We have to lay down arms, call the arms dealers out, call out the “masters of war”(as Bob Dylan did). And also feed the “hungry ghosts “ (our innate greed)– not with fossil fuel – but with a new kind of nourishment that is life affirming. The strange weathers we now experience will become even stranger. Ices caps are melting. Capable people, spiritual people, brilliant and curious and brave people are following this demise and taking major notice. And become activists working with climate change. We should be listening to the calls for compassionate radical action and political will. Come join us! I am excited about the commitment of young artists and activists to maintaining long term pressure on the system. Of staying on the case and structuring their work to “tithe one’s time”- it’s a spiritual practice we can all participate in, raising consciousness to the very palpable issues of climate change. We are already inside the maelstrom. We know it. We feel it. We experience flood and fire and toxic sickness. We need to encourage our selves and others to be better stewards of planet earth and demand that there be rigorous standards for de-carbonization set in Paris next December. We need to demonstrate that urgency through our creative work and also if need be put our bodies on the line. Poets are low-tech, as are musicians, singers, shamans, seers and word-workers. They don’t need as much fossil fuel as others. They are good examples of “doing with less”. Poetry has been around since the beginning of human consciousness. Poetry comes with self reflection and the reflection and mediation on all the things of this world. The plants and greenery and the animals and the slime molds! It is the oldest religion. Perhaps poetry originated from bird song. Humans have debt to the other creatures in the biosphere; they are living presences in our poetry. Perhaps we exist as the eyes looking back on itself, we are the eyes and linguists speaking for of Nature. We are the other half of Nature. In any case, we are entangled, entwined. And artists in general seems to see the interconnectedness of life and express this in refreshed language. With images, sound and with Logopoeia — the dance of the intellect. We need to keep doing this work. We can visualize the great rhizome, a vast underground tuber system that nourishes and keeps going horizontally, or the braided river…We find metaphors for our profound co-existence. There is no time in human history without poetry to express our insights, our emotions, our desire, our efficacy. I think compassion is necessary in this work of bell-ringers and the more one can speak to others and know the science, the facts and figures, the logic the better. That helps others to wake up themselves. The plan is to de-carbonize. DE-CARBONIZE!!! Leave carbon where it belongs in its own sequestered realm, a silent monk, undisturbed.

– Anne Waldman, poet and co-founder with Allen Ginsberg of The Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado, the first Buddhist-inspired University in the West.

May Day 2015