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Seeds of Fire

Contemporary Poetry from the Other USA

Seeds of Fire brings together the work of over fifty poets from the other USA – including Adrienne Rich, Fred Voss, Grace Paley, Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez and Martín Espada.

Lyrical, satirical, raging and prophetic, they bear witness against the crippling nationalism promoted by the ruling political parties and corporate media in the United States. They seek solidarity with the impoverished and war-torn working classes around the world against the forces of imperial slaughter, environmental catastrophe and social disintegration.

Some poems call us to the barricades, some to despair. Some detail the way capitalism can poison even the most intimate aspects of our lives, while others record the bloody consequences of The American Way, from Palestine and Iraq, Vietnam and Chile to the beggars on the streets of Washington.

These poets sow their seeds of fire in the hope that the real globalization project is the building of international unity among all those – including the ghosts of John Coltrane, Emmett Till, Tom McGrath, Rachel Corrie, Woody Guthrie, Emma Goldman, Tom Paine and the Blue Cat – who believe that a better world is still possible.

The pictures below were taken at US launch for Seeds of Fire , held at New York’s Bowery Club, which raised three hundred dollars for the Middle East Children’s Alliance.

Sample Poems

Psalm for Distribution

Lord,
On 8th Street
Between 6th Avenue and Broadway
In Greenwich Village
There are enough shoe stores
With enough shoes
To make me wonder
Why there are shoeless people
On the earth.
Lord,
You have to fire the Angel
in charge of distribution.

Revolutionary Spanish Lesson

Whenever my name
is mispronounced,
I want to buy a toy pistol,
put on dark sunglasses,
push my beret to an angle,
comb my beard to a point,
hijack a busload
of Republican tourists
from Wisconsin,
force them to chant
anti–American slogans
in Spanish,
and wait
for the bilingual SWAT team
to helicopter overhead,
begging me
to be reasonable

If I Live

Maybe someday I’ll sit
creaky on the creaky porch
dispensing wisdom and warnings
no one understands –
my grandfather voice full of iro and irony
quoting Orwell’s Benjamin:

‘None of you has ever seen a dead donkey.’

Maybe I’ll give in, give up
take up prayer and reruns.

But I’d rather stay impetuous and injured
than inured – better to screw decorum
than to have decorum screw me:

sit on my hands when my fists should be pumping the air?

No – even stooped and grey I’ll keep sluffing off
their sprung nets and blindsides.
I’ll keep saying that this is wrong,

it’s wrong, it’s practical and wrong,
it makes perfect economic sense and it’s wrong
it’s wrong, it’s the law and the invisible hand,
it’s brand new, cutting edge, scientifically feasible,
it’s hot, it’s the American way and it’s blood–bath
wrong, it’s beautiful and genocidal, it’s hilarious
and bloated and wrong as an underwater corpse,
it’s patriotic and wrong, it’s wrong I’ll yell
until they could just go ahead and kick themselves
to death
for counting Grampa out
for making him this dangerous.

Reviews

‘a book to celebrate. concerned without being strident, committed, but to truth and justice rather than to cause of ideology, and above all radiant in its belief in the power of literature to illuminate, to enrich and to bring to every life a love of disciplined language’s pleasure and revelation. one of those collections which sing to be revisited and which never lose their freshness.’

‘if you have been feeling as helpless and frustrated and angry with global and national politics as I have, check it out.’

‘the best collection of political poetry since Lowenfels’ Poets of Today (1965)’

‘keep this wonderful volume in the car. or buy an extra copy for the waiting room of your favourite doctor’s office’

Seeds of Fire Contemporary Poetry from the Other USA Seeds of Fire brings together the work of over fifty poets from the other USA – including Adrienne Rich, Fred Voss, Grace Paley, Amiri

Playing with Wildfire: 5 Amazing Adaptations of Pyrophytic Plants

A blazing inferno is moving quickly in your direction. You feel the intense heat and the air is clogged with smoke. Deer, snakes, and birds flee past you, even the insects attempt to escape. You would run too if you could, but unfortunately, you are a plant. The fire begins to lick at your leaves and you wait. While no one likes the sight of a burned forest, fire is important for the functioning of a number of ecosystems and many plants are specially adapted to these fire-prone habitats. Read on to discover some of the amazing ways plants survive—and even thrive—in the face of wildfire.

Fire-activated Seed

Perhaps the most amazing fire adaptation is that some species actually require fire for their seeds to sprout. Some plants, such as the lodgepole pine, Eucalyptus, and Banksia, have serotinous cones or fruits that are completely sealed with resin. These cones/fruits can only open to release their seeds after the heat of a fire has physically melted the resin. Other species, including a number of shrubs and annual plants, require the chemical signals from smoke and charred plant matter to break seed dormancy. Some of these plants will only sprout in the presence of such chemicals and can remain buried in the soil seed bank for decades until a wildfire awakens them. The image shows lodgepole pine seedlings growing next to the charred remains of their parent plants following the 1988 Yellowstone National Park fires.

Thermal Insulation

Some plants are able to survive wildfires due to a clever layer of thermal insulation provided by their bark, dead leaves, or moist tissues. Certain trees, including larches and giant sequoias, have incredibly thick, fire retardant bark and can be directly burned without sustaining damage to their vital tissues (though they will eventually succumb to intense fires). Other plants, such as the Australian grass tree and South African aloes (pictured) retain dense, dead leaves around their stems to serve as insulation against the heat of a wildfire. Additionally, some plants have moist tissues that provide both thermal insulation and protect against dehydration during a fire. This strategy is common in a number of Protea species which have corky tissues to protect their buds from desiccation.

Resprouting

Though wildfires inevitably kill and injure many organisms in their path, a number of plants have adapted to resprout if they are damaged in a blaze. Some of these resprouters, including several Eucalyptus species, have specialized buds that are protected under the bark of their trunks. When the trees are burned, these buds emerge to produce new leaves and branches. Other plants rely on underground structures for regrowth, which allows them to “come back” even if the above-ground portion has been destroyed. Some Banksia species and other shrubs have swollen stem bases or underground woody organs known as lignotubers from which new shoots can emerge. Similarly, many herbaceous plants have fleshy bulbs, rhizomes, or other types of underground stems from which green shoots rapidly develop in the wake of a fire.

Prolific Flowering

To take advantage of the ash-fertilized soil, some plant species are able to flower prolifically after a fire. The Australian grass tree (pictured) is a well-known example of this adaptation. Its conspicuous flower spikes are often the first sign that the plant survived a blaze and individuals grown in greenhouses are often subjected to blowtorching to encourage flowering! Other fire-stimulated species often bloom simultaneously a few weeks after being burned, creating lush landscapes of colorful flowers. This is especially common in annual plants that emerge rapidly from the post-fire soil seed bank. Several members of the fire lily genus (Cyrtanthus) only flower after fires and have an extremely fast flowering response to natural bush fires. One species can even reach full flowering stage in just nine days following a fire!

Tall Crowns

A tall crown and few to no lower branches is a strategy a number of tree species employ to reduce wildfire damage. In keeping their leaves and vital growth tissues far above the reach of most flames, these trees can often survive a fire with only minor charring to their trunks. This adaptation is common in several pine species as well as in many Eucalyptus species. Some of these trees, such as the ponderosa pine, have even evolved a “self-pruning” mechanism and readily remove their dead branches to eliminate potential sources of fuel.

This Encyclopedia Britannica science list highlights five adaptations that allow plants to survive in fire-prone habitats.