Milvia Street at the 20th Annual Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival on Sat, Sept. 26, Noon – 4:30 pm, Civic Center Park


Stand Up for the Earth with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Hass (US Poet Laureate 1995-97), poet/activist Brenda Hillman, Simon J. Ortiz (legendary Acoma Pueblo poet in his first Bay Area reading in a decade!), Francisco X. Alarcón, Jane Mead, C.S. Giscombe, John Shoptaw, Malcolm Margolin, Novella Carpenter (Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer), Genny Lim with poetry and jazz, California Poets in the Schools K-12 students presented by John Oliver Simon and Maureen Hurley, The Barry Finnerty Trio, and more!


Saturday, September 26, 2015, Noon–4:30 pm, Free

Civic Center Park by the Berkeley Farmers’ Market

Martin Luther King Jr. Way, at Center Street, Berkeley

Strawberry Creek Walk precedes the main stage; The Creek Walk leaves from Oxford and Center Streets on the edge of the UC Berkeley campus at 10:00 am.

Watershed stage

Presented by Poetry Flash and the Ecology Center/Berkeley Farmers’ Market, with co-sponsors Pegasus Downtown Books, Moe’s Books. 100 Thousand Poets for Change event.


Celebrating Writers, Nature, and Community, poets, writers, and environmentalists will gather to “Stand up for the earth” with readings, music, and exhibits at the 20th annual Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival, Saturday, September 26, noon-4:30 at Berkeley’s Civic Center Park, one block west of downtown Berkeley BART.


Poetry readings by renowned poets and authors, K-12 student poets, world-class jazz, exhibits, and We are Nature Open Mic will take place in front of beautiful Watershed banners created for the festival by Bolinas artist Arthur Okamura. Watershed is held alongside the lively Berkeley Farmers’ Market that will be in full swing as the stage presentations begin. Shade tents will provide sunshade; chairs and recycled carpet squares will be available for seating. Bring your lunch or pick up snacks at the Farmers’ Market!

River Village exhibitors include Heyday Books, Poetree Interactive Writing from Berkeley City College’s Milvia Street: Art and Literary Journal, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Words of the Watershed Journal (UC Berkeley), Sixteen Rivers Press, California Poets in the Schools, St. Mary’s College MFA in Creative Writing Program, Pegasus Books Downtown, Pandemonium Press, and more. Creek Poems artwork will be installed over the footprint of Strawberry Creek (it runs under the park). To exhibit, e-mail, or see


Books by the readers will be available for purchase at the Pegasus Book Tent.


Strawberry Creek Walk begins at 10:00 am, Saturday morning, September 26, just inside the UC Berkeley campus at Oxford and Center Streets. The public is invited to join the Creek Walk for poetry and natural history commentary, led by poet-performer-teacher Chris Olander, with poet, journalist, and Seattle climate activist Emily Johnston, poet and naturalist Maya Khosla, Mk Chavez, J. David Cummings, and Theresa Whitehill, with commentary by Tim Pine, Director of the UC Berkely Environmental Health and Safety Department. The Creek Walk will follow Strawberry Creek through the University of California campus and trace the creek’s path as it flows above ground then tunnels beneath the city to the festival site.


This Watershed is dedicated to Mark Baldridge (1948-2014), environmentalist, chair of the Poetry Flash board of directors, and co-founder of the Watershed Festival. A tribute to him by poets Gerald Fleming, Maya Khosla, and Kirk Lumpkin will be presented at the festival.




• We Are Nature Open Mic, six three-minute reading spots, enter the lottery by noon at the Info Tent on site.


• Robert Hass, U.S. Poet Laureate Emeritus, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning poet and essayist. His books include What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World, The Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems, Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005, Sun Under Wood: New Poems, Human Wishes, Praise, and Field Guide. He is co-translator and editor of poets including Nobel Laureates Czeslaw Milosz, Tomas Tranströmer, and The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa.  Curator of Berkeley’s famed Addison Street Poetry Walk, he is professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley.

• Brenda Hillman is the author of Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, Practical Water, Pieces of Air in the Epic, Cascadia, Loose Sugar (a National Book Critics Circle finalist), Bright Existence, Death Tractates, Fortress, and White Dress. Her awards and fellowships include the Griffin Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship, and honors from National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Society of America, and Northern California Book Award for Poetry. She is professor of Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California.

• Simon J. Ortiz, poet, fiction writer, essayist, storyteller, is a member of the Acoma Pueblo nation. His books of poems include Out There Somewhere, After and Before the Lightning, and Woven Stone, among others. His short stories are collected in Men on the Moon, and he is anthologized in Allison Hedge Coke’s Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas. Among his many honors are lifetime achievement awards from the Western States Arts Federation and Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lila Wallace–Reader’s Digest Fund. He is a professor at Arizona State University.

• Francisco X. Alarcón’s two new books of poems, both bilingual, are Canto hondo / Deep Song and Mariposas sin fronteras / Borderless Butterflies, Earth Haikus and Other Poems. Recipient of the Fred Cody Lifetime Achievement Award from the Northern California Book Awards, he teaches at University of California, Davis, where he directs the Spanish for Native Speakers Program. He is the author of twelve volumes of poetry and the award-winning author of six books of bilingual poems for children.

• Genny Lim is a poet, playwright, and performer. Her new poetry collection, her third, is Paper Gods and Rebels. Noted for the power of her imagery, the power of her voice, ranging through war, exile, displacement, and loss, she’ll perform with The Barry Finnerty Trio. She has recorded with jazz musician Jon Jang and is co-author of Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island. Her play, Paper Angels, has been produced in San Francisco, New York, and Seattle, and appeared on PBS’ American Playhouse in 1985. A new production of the play appeared in Seattle in August 2015.

• Jane Mead’s most recent books of poetry, The Usable Field, and her new collection, Money Money Money Water Water Water, are set on the family grape-growing property in northern California. That property gives her a poetic base for thinking the economics of water and for much else, mordant wit, creaturely love, the sadness, transience, and musical richness of our life. She has received grants and awards from the Whiting, Guggenheim, and Lannan Foundations.

• John Shoptaw is a poet. His new book is Times Beach, winner of the Notre Dame Review Book Prize. His poem, “Blues Haiku,” was published in The New Yorker. He teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, where his professional statement is “If you’re not a green poet, whatever other kind of poet you are, you’re not paying attention.”

• C.S. Giscombe is most recently the author of Here and Ohio Railroads, an Omnidawn chapbook; his previous books include Prairie Style and Giscombe Road. His awards include the Stephen Henderson Award in Poetry, an American Book Award, the Carl Sandburg Prize, and National Endowment for the Artsfellowship. He has been a taxi driver, hospital orderly, and railroad brakeman. He edited Epoch magazine for years. He teaches at the University of California, Berkeley.

• Malcolm Margolin is the founder and Executive Director of the independent, nonprofit Heyday Books, the iconic Berkeley publishers. He’s also author/editor of eight books, including The East Bay Out, a guide to East Bay regional parks, and the famous The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San Francisco-Monterey Bay Area. Among his many honors are a Fred Cody Lifetime Achievement Award from the Northern California Book Awards, a Cultural Freedom Award from the Lannan Foundation, and the Chairman’s Commendation from the National Foundation for the Humanities.

• Novella Carpenter is the co-author of The Essential Urban Farmer, author of the bestselling Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer and of the new memoir Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild. She owns GhostTown Farm, an urban farm on a dead-end street in Oakland on and from which she blogs. She’s a member of the Biofuel Oasis Cooperative, a biodiesel station and an urban farming feed store in Berkeley.

• California Poets in the Schools K-12 students presented by John Oliver Simon and Maureen Hurley, CPITS poet-teachers. Maureen Hurley is the recipient of eight California Arts Council grants and two KQED SPARK artist grants. John Oliver Simon is a National Endowment of the Arts fellow in literary translation, author of Caminante, a narrow road into the far south, and Son Caminos, selected poems in Spanish. His new book is Grandpa’s Syllables.

• Kim Shuck, Native American poet, author of Clouds Running In, opens the festival with an invocation.

• The Barry Finnerty Trio. Guitarist Barry Finnerty’s CDs include Blues for Trane, Straight Ahead, and Manhattan Sessions with the NY All Stars. Also performing: Peter Barshay on bass and Ron Marabuto on drums.

• Emcees: Richard Silberg, Associate Editor of Poetry Flash, author of The Horses, New and Selected Poems, and poet, lyricist, and spoken word artist Kirk Lumpkin, former manager of the Ecology Center/Berkeley Farmers’ Market.


(Creek Walk poets will also appear on the main stage in the afternoon.)

• Chris Olander, author of Mallard a number of poetry CDs is an eco-performance poet; he is a California Poets in the Schools teacher and Poetry Out Loud teacher-mentor. He lives in Nevada City, California and will lead the Creek Walk.

• Mk Chavez is an Oakland poet. She’s author of Virgin Eyes; her recent poems can be found in ElevenEleven and Rivet. She co-curates the Lyrics & Dirges series at Pegasus Books and the Berkeley Poetry Festival.

• J. David Cummings’ debut book, Tancho, won the 2013 Snyder Award from Ashland Poetry Press, selected by Alicia Suskin Ostriker. He resigned as a theoretical physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1973 and vowed to end his work in nuclear weapons after he visited Japan in the early 1990s. Tancho, his meditation on the U.S. nuclear bombing of Japan, is the result.

• Emily Johnston will celebrate the launch of her first book of poetry, Her Animals, at Watershed. She is a Seattle poet, essayist, and activist who publishes in Slate, Crosscut, The Oregonian, and elsewhere. She writes on climate change action and events for

• Maya Khosla, poet and naturalist, is author of Keel Bone.

• Tim Pine is a Creek Restoration expert who works in Environmental Protection at UC Berkeley. He is Director of the UC Berkeley Environmental Health and Safety Department.

• Theresa Whitehill is a poet, scholar, and letterpress printer who served as Poet Laureate for the city of Ukiah, California, 2009- 2011. Her most recent book of poetry is A Grammar of Longing. She has served as Poet-in-Residence for Stags’ Leap Winery.


Admission is free. Wheelchair accessible. ASL interpreters will be provided if an email request is made by September 19, 2015. Email:

Watershed History & Sponsors

Watershed Environmental Festival is a collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Hass, Poetry Flash, and the Ecology Center/Berkeley Farmers’ Market. This festival is a “100 Thousand Poets for Change” event. Our community partners are Pegasus Books Downtown (book suppliers) and Moe’s Books (media sponsor). Watershed presents a session for students with featured poets at Berkeley High School on Friday, September 25.

The Watershed Festival emerged from Robert Hass’s national Watershed initiative during his tenure as U.S. Poet Laureate, 1995-97, which explored connections between the environment and the American literary imagination.


For Calendar Editors:

20th annual Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival, Saturday, September 26, noon-4:30 pm, at Civic Center Park, Martin Luther King Jr. Way, at Center Street, Berkeley. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Hass with poets Brenda Hillman, Simon J. Ortiz, Jane Mead, C.S. Giscombe, John Shoptaw; publisher Malcolm Margolin (The Ohlone Way); Novella Carpenter, Farm City; Genny Lim with poetry and jazz; California Poets in the Schools students with poet-teachers John Oliver Simon and Maureen Hurley; also readings by Chris Olander, Mk Chavez, J. David Cummings, Maya Khosla, Theresa Whitehill, Gerald Fleming, Kirk Lumpkin; music by The Barry Finnerty Trio, River Village exhibits: books, literary and environmental organizations. Strawberry Creek Walk at 10:00 am precedes the main event with poetry and natural history commentary, meet at Oxford and Center Streets, UC Berkeley. All free admission. 100 Thousand Poets for Change event, presented by Poetry Flash and Ecology Center/Berkeley Farmers’ Market. For information: (510) 525-5476,, or

Public Information:, (510) 525-5476,