Cynthia Anderson

A Tale of the Pleiades

On the longest night

they glow in the east,

 

a glittering diamond clasp—

sisters who flee their father

 

who decide to die together,

who escape to the heavens

 

to find a new home,

who shine from there

 

on Coyote. Found out,

they let him prevail,

 

let him ride to the stars

on the back of the youngest

 

who throws him off

when he cannot keep

 

his hands or his penis

to himself—

 

And though he falls

to earth and dies,

 

that does not stop him.

Bird songs tell

 

how the sisters rise

in their diadem of safety

 

while Coyote howls,

incorrigible

 

and immortal.


Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Her award-winning poems have appeared in journals such as Askew, Dark Matter, Apercus Quarterly, Whale Road, Knot Magazine, and Origami Poems Project. She is the author of five collections—”In the Mojave,” “Desert Dweller,” “Mythic Rockscapes,” and “Shared Visions I” and “Shared Visions II.” She frequently collaborates with her husband, photographer Bill Dahl. Cynthia co-edited the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens.

Haiku / Poetry Writing Workshop in Joshua Tree, March 7, 2015 by Ruth Nolan

Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park Presents: Desert Haiku Writing in Joshua Tree National Park, March 7, 2015 at the Black Rock Visitor Center, Joshua Tree National Park. Led by Ruth Nolan and Deborah P. Kolodji.

Joshua Tree, CA—Spring is coming soon, and March is an ideal month to visit the Mojave Desert as wildflowers begin to bloom! Be inspired by the power and beauty of the desert setting to learn how to write haiku—one of the most basic types of poetry—as well as other nature-based forms of poetry in this writing-intensive field seminar. Participants will take brief walks and be introduced to the ecologic and cultural/historical richness of the desert at Joshua Tree studded Black Rock Campground. In addition to writing haiku that stems from the direct experience of this natural desert wonderland, participants will also be led in writing other short forms of poetry and some short prose stemming from creative writing prompts. This workshop is open to writers of all levels, from beginning to advanced, and is suitable for ages 14+. The workshop is led by desert poet/writer Ruth Nolan, MFA, Professor of English and Creative Writing at College of the Desert, and poet Deborah P. Kolodji, former chair of the Southern California Haiku Study Group.

TO REGISTER OR RECEIVE MORE INFORMATION: contact Kevin Wong, program director via email at desertinstitute@joshuatree.org or by phone (760) 367-5583.

You can also register online on the Desert Institute website.

Other Desert Mothers: Ruth Nolan at Riverside Art Museum by Lisa Henry

Tonight, Friday November 7, Salt+Spice will present author, educator, and environmental activist Ruth Nolan, who will launch her latest collection of poetry, Other Desert Mothers, at the Riverside Art Museum. A wine and cheese reception will begin at 6:30pm with the reading set to begin at 7:00pm.

Ruth Nolan knows more than a few things about the desert, and about motherhood. A native of the Inland Empire and a current resident of Palm Desert, Nolan has spent countless hours hiking, camping, writing, parenting, grandparenting and firefighting in the vast, dry landscapes of California’s deserts. Her new collection of poetry, Other Desert Mothers (Old Woman Mountains Press, 2014), is a meditation on her unique desert journey. The book will be released in November and Nolan will celebrate the publication with a reading and reception at Riverside Art Museum Friday November 7 at 6:30pm.

A long-time desert dweller, Nolan has experienced adolescence, motherhood, and now grandmotherhood in and around the Mojave Desert.

“My parents moved us to a very remote area of the Mojave Desert when I was 13, from Rialto, CA.” It was a difficult transition for Nolan. She readily admits, “I was in shock at the vast contrast between the Inland Empire and desert, but instantly smitten and blown away by the beauty and power of the desert. I’ve been pinned down by the desert, both literally and metaphorically, since then.”

As single mother and a professor of English and Creative Writing at College of the Desert, both Nolan’s personal identity and professional career have been forged in the vast and surreal landscape, which she describes as “my #1 geography.” This place is “a sort of complete dreamscape, an altered state that both inspires, elates, and intimidates me. I have only to step into the desert on a hike or start a road trip across its vast, empty roads, and I feel that sense of unbroken dreamscape again.”

Nolan has fully embraced her hometown as rich and fertile ground where she can write, study and teach. An avid desert advocate and conservationist, she lectures widely on literature of the desert, and has taught desert-based writing workshops for the Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park. Among her many notable publications are No Place for a Puritan (Heyday Books/Inlandia, 2009), an impressive anthology highlighting the diverse literature of California’s deserts, Orangelandia: The Literature of Inland Citrus (Inlandia, 2014) and New California Writing, 2011 (Heyday).

“For me, the Mojave hasn’t been a wasteland; nor, even as it’s been discovered by artists more recently as a highly desirable location for a more refined, esoteric aesthetic. The Mojave Desert is a free-flowing experience of consciousness and geography. It’s a place of life, a place of people—however far apart, a place of sustenance and nurturing and enlightenment.”


Lisa Henry teaches at San Bernardino Valley College and is founder of Salt+Spice, a community-based arts organization.