THE BLOG
09/28/2010 03:35 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Oil Kills Poets Spill

Oil fuels our lifestyles, while its consequences unabatedly smother much of what is beautiful on this planet, including our most precious species -- those edging ever closer to the cliff of extinction. The BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is a potent and anguishing reminder of the unacceptable consequences of oil development. In the Gulf, fishing communities are coming apart like the tossed pieces of a child's jigsaw puzzle. Miles of shoreline are tarred. And islands of nesting birds may be turning into bone yards, though much of the evidence will be swept away by the ocean.

Of course, the consequences of protecting our nation's interest in this viscous liquid, conceived in the time of dinosaurs, have spread far and wide. And, it mars the beauty, not just of our lower 48, but also the mythic landscapes -- and unique wildlife -- of places like the Arctic and the Amazon, where much of our drilling occurs today.

Try as we might, it is a challenge to find the boundaries of the enormous cost of our addiction. So, instead, our understanding is often reduced to the cold data: the dry statistics of dead wildlife. The Gulf Coast is home to 36 national wildlife refuges and forty endangered species. The spill's latest victims from the BP spill are more than 6,000 birds, nearly 600 sea turtles and approximately 100 marine mammals, though even those numbers are very far from accurate in counting the actual death toll.

Most migratory birds in the Western Hemisphere use these marshes as a stopover site. Endangered species such as the Kemp's Ridley sea turtle, Brown pelican, Least tern, and Piping plover are breeding, nesting and feeding along this vulnerable coast. Sperm whales, manatees, and gulf sturgeon swim in the coastal waters.

To know the impacts of oil, to feel it in our bones, we need much more than statistics. This kind of knowing can only happen with the help of artists and poets. To help us make sense of a world awash in oil and all of its meanings, the Endangered Species Coalition will be participating in a poetry reading, Oil Kills Poets Spill, on October 2nd at 4 PM. Appropriately, the poets will be reading in the New York Marble Cemetery at 41½ 2nd Avenue in front of a 20 x 20 foot painting by Stefan Bondell titled, "Current Sea" -- covered in a million dollars worth of shredded currency, black marsh ink, blood, paint, and BP motor oil.

The reading will include some of the most important living poets in the United States today and some of its rising stars, featuring: Anne Waldman, Lydia Cortes, Anselm Berrigan, Rene Ricard, Holly Anderson, Sabrina Gilbert, Ilka Scobie, Sajjadur Rahman, Jeff Wright, Stefan Bondell, John Giorno, Stella Schnabel, Jonas Mekas, Suheir Hammad, Khalil Amustafa, Terence Koh, Lance de Los Reyes and Vito Acconci.

Join us in New York for Oil Kills Poets Spill. The poetry reading is free and open to the public. If you won't be in town, see the live webcast at www.artofficial.us.