THREE YEARS AGO, I WROTE A story for Guideposts about how a poem saved a forest.
I’m a professional poet. One of the best-known aspects of my work is what I call Poem Store. I set up a typewriter in a public place and write poems on request for whatever people choose to pay.
My Guideposts story, published in April 2016, was about an unlikely friendship with one of my Poem Store customers, a timber company executive named Neal Ewald. I’m a passionate environmentalist. Neal’s company, Green Diamond Resource Company, planned to log a pristine tract of old-growth redwood trees near the northern California town where I lived.
At the time we met, I had no idea who Neal was. All I knew was that he asked me to write a poem commemorating his wife, who had recently died of cancer. We got to talking and became friends despite our differences, and through our conversations and the work of local environmental groups, Neal decided to sell 1,000 acres of a redwood forest to the county to be set aside as a preserve. Neal and I helped each other learn something about collaboration and openness to new perspectives.
Many Guideposts readers wrote to me about my story. Some were moved by Neal’s devotion to his wife. Others wrote about their own love of nature. Above all, readers told me how much they love poetry, especially the way it connects them to God and helps unite people across divides of politics and belief.
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