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Posted on Oct 14, 2013

A First Look at Searching For What Is Not There by Martin Willitts Jr

A First Look at Searching For What Is Not There by Martin Willitts Jr

This past summer we announced the 2 winners of the 2013 Wild Earth Poetry Prize. We released the first winning collection, Crow Feathers, Red Ochre, Green Tea by Gwendolyn Morgan this past August. Now we are preparing to release the second winner, Searching for What’s Not There by Martin Willitts Jr. The official release is set for October 28th.

Searching For What Is Not There is a meditative and spiritual quest by a Quaker organic gardener trying to restore and heal the earth throughout the four seasons, from planning to planting to harvesting. In this world everything is connected, interconnected, and if one thing fails, the whole world could suffer including the heavens. Tiny voices reach out and beg for listening and repair. If we could re-visit Eden, this is the kind of care-taking that would be necessary. In many of the poems, there is almost-prayer, almost-lamination, and at other times in awe and amazed by all of creation. These poems become ecstatic and mystical beliefs.

Martin Willitts Jr is a quaker, organic gardner, and retired librarian living in Syracuse, New York. He pro­vided a work­shop How to Make Origami Haiku Jumping rigs at the 2012 Massachusetts Poetry Festival. He won the William K. Hathaway Award for Poem of the Year 2012. He was nom­i­nated for 5 Pushcart and 4 Best of the Net Awards. Martin has pub­lished 4 full-​​length and over 20 poetry chap­books.



How We Can Change Things


Too often, I am aware of the land beneath my feet
and how it came to be. How it was here first,
and, how it will be here last.
As a healer, I am connected to the earth.
I feel what the earth feels. And it does not feel well.
Where has the Eastern Rosebud gone?
The passenger pigeon was hunted out of existence.

Where, too, are the scimitar leaves of the Honey Locus?
It used to litter the fields as reminders
that things are supposed to return.
Life is as fragile as lawn full of Baby’s Breath.

What survives us?
We need to be better caretakers.
We do this forgetting
as if reality was star-shaped leaves from Sweet Gum
tossing themselves into the air.

Instead, change is a river of wind
with music, flapping tremendous wings of hope,
taking me to where I belong
over the curve of regret
to a place solemn filtered as light,
fresh as forsythia in winter, its yellow bugles
making its song of settling, waiting for me.