Local Artists Read Nature Poems for National Poetry Month

  • Fifth-grader Olivia Knauer reads her poem "Snowfall" in the Allegheny Front studios. Photo: Kathy Knauer

  • A ruffed grouse egg that Susan Sauter found on her farm in part inspired her poem "Globe." Photo: Susan Sauter

  • A crayfish among frog eggs on the Sauter farm also inspired Sauter's writing. Photo: Susan Sauter

  • Poet and writer Susan Sauter on her farm in West Virginia. Photo: Don Sauter

April 27, 2013                                                            

With the arrival of spring, poets’ voices often bend toward nature. Poet and writer Susan Truxell Sauter says she is no exception. In the 1990s, Sauter turned to farming and creative writing after a long career in journalism. Today, she lives and writes in Bruceton Mills, W.Va., where she lives with her husband, Don.

Sauter says much of her creative inspiration comes from nature. With the arrival of spring, she has taken many walks around her farm. Not long ago, she spotted a red crayfish eating frogs' eggs in one of the farm's ponds. She later discovered a single ruffed grouse's egg perched on a rock. Both images appear in her poem "Globe":

          Day One. To hold it safe, I’d swallow whole a clear sphere, this
                      frog’s egg, the tadpole waiting within. Still, it would not escape
                      the coral-colored crayfish lying in the midst of the egg mass.
                      No, I’d swallow that as well to create a real globe.

          Day Two. I’d swallow the barn swifts, and make room for
                      the sky to hold a full whirling flock of them to revolve
                      in orbit, wing tips touching on high winds the day long.

          Day Three. I’d swallow a teaspoon of soil, its yeast and spores
                      packed in with the grit and grains amongst the other life
                      to root there with the yellow trout-back lilies.

          Day Four. I’d swallow the calls of a pileated woodpecker, of
                      bluebirds warbling as they mate in flight, the screech of
                      a red-tail hawk, and the mellifluous song of a wood thrush.

          Day Five. I couldn’t leave out the wind sighing through
                      the white pines or its rattle past persistent oak leaves
                      nor could I forget its rippled laps over the pond.

          Day Six. I’d have to swallow the entire river, its brambled banks, the
                      blue strip above, a wild blooming apple tree near its edge,
                      the long winter’s detritus that crunches underfoot.

          Then at last I’d have to swallow salted
                       tears at all I’d leave behind to the
                                 numbered days ahead.

Another poet, Olivia Knauer, a fifth-grade student in Pittsburgh's Environmental Charter School, read a poem entitled "Snowfall." Knauer says she was inspired by the early winter season in Frick Park, near her Squirrel Hill home in Pittsburgh.

          Stream runs under icicles frozen on the waterfalls.
          Nothing but tiny hemlocks are green.
          On bare trees are flakes of snow.
          Woodpeckers knock on bark, seeking bugs to eat.

          Fox tracks lead under brush, one by one.
          A flock of hungry cardinals visit the feeder.
          Lots of flurries flutter gracefully to the ground.
          Light dims, darkness falls, on Frick Park,
                       in early winter.