Spring 2024 /The Value of the Liberal Arts/

Homepage: Poetry in the Parks

Joshua Tree with the sun setting in the background

Photos by Carrie Rosema

Westward lies the Pacific, but Joshua Tree National Park—about 100 miles to the east of Claremont—is another place Pomona College students go to experience the grandeur and beauty of California. It is 800,000 acres of rugged and often lonely terrain where one can see a sudden wildflower bloom in spring, climb on massive rocks or stay after sunset to behold the expanse of the Milky Way.

Jodie Hollander at Joshua TreeThe desert also is a place of inspiration. In September, poet Jodie Hollander ’99 led several workshops in Joshua Tree as part of her Poetry in the Parks project, an ongoing series in national parks and other National Park Service sites. Hollander, second from right above and at far right in opposite photo, led Joshua Tree sessions on landscape poetry, the poetry of grief and healing and narrative poetry. The author of two well-received collections, My Dark Horses and Nocturne, she has been the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship and a National Endowment for the Humanities grant.

Jodie Hollander at Joshua Tree When an unexpected rain fell in the desert during the landscape workshop, it stirred new creative directions and brought to mind  lines from Hollander’s earlier poem, “After the Storm”:

Later that night I lay there in darkness
wondering about the storm, and what
I had seen unfurl in such violent release,
then wondered, too, what I really knew
of myself, and my own dark moorings.