Local poets reflect on drought

Amie Birks



Poets from CSU Bakersfield and the community gathered in the Dezember Reading Room on April 19 to present their work. Local poets were given the opportunity to reflect and write on various aspects of the drought.

This was the first time that there was a centralized theme for the annual event, and English professor Matthew Woodman chose the theme hoping to capture something that was pertinent to the local community.

Woodman said he wanted to pick a theme that wouldn’t lend itself to clichés and is also relevant to Kern County.

The audience was attentive as the poets shared their inspiration for their poems.
Many of the poets reflected different ideas about the drought.

“It was a look into the different ways to approach the same thing,” said sophomore psychology and English major Bailey Russell.

Writer Nancy Edwards centered her poems on the devastating effects that the drought has upon wildlife.

“I choose to take a broad view and then a personal view,” said Edwards.

The first poem Edwards presented focused on the large amount of animals that suffer due to the drought, specifically cattle.

“So many animals die and suffer,” said Edwards.

Edwards took a more personal route on her second poem as she talked about Lake Truxtun and its ecosystem that she hopes will return some day.

In one of the poems presented by Russell, she spoke about the duality of water.

“This thing that we are running out of, it’s so powerful. It can both give life and take it,” said Russell.

Russell talked about the large amount of water that is undrinkable and the need to conserve what water there is to drink.

Woodman found his inspiration from two paintings by artist Rufino Tamayo. Woodman mentioned that he had seen Tamayo’s paintings in different museums and there was something that had intrigued him. Tamayo’s paintings allowed Woodman to have something to hold onto as he wrote his poems.

The poetry reading allowed for a relevant topic in our immediate community to be spoken about and expressed in a creative way.

“[It’s] a very unique way to express yourself. You get to use your own words to talk about how you feel about the issue without it being a debate,” said sophomore theater major Susannah Vera.


A few lines taken from English Professor Matthew Woodman’s poem entitled “Crazy II” (after Rufino Tamayo’s painting Loco II, 1949)


“Within each our chests a historic drought

can’t wait to spill out, the same size and shape

of this room you’re in.

                                             I won’t irrigate

my barren channels, my currents of doubt.”


His website is: www.matthewwoodman.com