Sunday, June 4, 2017

6/4/2017

I'm desperate to catch up on things.  I still have more to post about Hot Springs!  (A great conversation with one of of the rangers--who we REALLY need to thank.)
But while I have a few minutes let me step back some and talk about our stop at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.   First, we have to give a big thanks to Eric Brunnemann who helped us arrange readings there --and a place to stay.  And the other rangers went out of their way to arrange a reading at the amphitheater in the park.  We had a GREAT time at that park--the highest point in Texas!



When the rangers say it is a strenuous hike to the top and back--believe them!

What a view though!

While we were at this park we also did a reading at New Mexico State University Carlsbad!


We were some of the performers at the Poetry and Jazz Festival.  So friendly and accommodating.  Good cookies!  They had multiple copies of our books in the book store.  And the crowd was really into the moment!  Thank you so much!


06/04/2017--

Where do we begin?  Let me start with this photo:

This is just a small selection of t-shirts I have been collecting on the National Park Tour.   Pay special attention to the second from the left!  That is from our Hot Springs National Park stop.  (And there are stories there too!  Ask us about the Superior Bath House!)  Anyway, that shirt is from the store "Spa Souvenirs and Gifts."  While you are at the Park go right across the street (literally, right across the street) (not kidding).  This store is fun!  The people are friendly, prices are good.  Good postcards--and this GREAT t-shirt.  I should have gotten two!

And while you are in Hot Springs, just 2 blocks away from the Park (really, 2 blocks) you should eat breakfast at the Pancake Shop.  OMG.  The sausage.  The pancakes.  The sausage.  Did I mention the sausage?

We had a GREAT time at Hot Springs.  Karla has some pictures posted on her facebook page and I'll try to post more later.

While we were in Arkansas we also did an outreach poetry reading at the Malvern County Public Library  A BIG shout out to Clare Graham--and a great photographer--and the other library staff--who gave us room and time!  Wonderful facility and such hospitality.  (Go to their book sale.  Hint hint.)



Monday, May 1, 2017

5/1/2017--
Oh, and could we tell you a tale about Guadalupe Mountains National Park!
What a hike!  And wow the pictures!  I hope to post some here this week.
The park personnel were very gracious--and helped us set up a reading in the park.  A big thank you to Eric Brunnemann who provided us with so much assistance.  We met amazing people and enjoyed that big Texas sky!

And wow--the view above El Capitan!

Now the next trip!  It was going to be Isle Royale in Michigan.  We were trying to plan and book and line up staying in the lodge and figuring out how many days driving and how to actually get to the island--and then we got interesting information.  Yes, the ferry does run twice a week (Monday and Friday only) but the LODGE ISN'T OPEN UNTIL THE END OF MAY.  If we were willing to camp for 4 days in the cold with no facilities at all--well, it's charitable to say that we didn't have the proper equipment to pull that off yet.  (Maybe we will be better equipped when we get to the Alaska parks!)

So, instead of Isle Royale we are going to Hot Springs National Park!  Isle Royale is getting moved to a warmer month.  We got a hotel booked already, we got a reading set up, I have a bathhouse in my sights, and am looking at the hiking trails.  More information as the days come up but for right now we are leaving Friday May 12th and coming back on the 17th.

As always, please follow Karla on Facebook.  And check back to this blog!

OH!  And did I mention the really big news?  Pendleton Woolen Mills has agreed to be a sponsor for our Words of Preservation Tour! We proudly carried a Badlands National Park blanket up Guadalupe Mountain!  Please visit the Pendleton website and take a look at their National Park Gear!  Pendleton is well known for their respect of the outdoors--and their textiles are of exceptional quality.  We are planning to take this blanket with us on all future Park adventures!


Saturday, April 1, 2017


A treat!  One of the first photos from our adventure at Yellowstone!


April 1st--and we prepare for our next park--Guadalupe Mountains!
We will be visiting this park the days of April 9th through 12th and are so looking forward to the hike to the top of the highest point in Texas!
Like so many of the other parks we have visited this park is attached to other adventures.  We are attending the annual convention of the Texas Institute of Letters which will be held in El Paso Friday April 7th and Saturday 8th.  Most of the events are open to the public.  The TIL membership includes some of the most accomplished and prestigious writers in the state.
The hospitality of the city will be on full display.  Most of the convention will be at the Doubletree downtown.  The main banquet will be at Ardovino's Desert Crossing.
TIL and the El Paso Library and local bookstores have arranged readings by some of the attending authors during the week.  Karla and I will be reading at the main library on Sunday April 9th at 3:30.
Our next reading is Tuesday April 11th at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park Amphitheater.  That starts at 6:30 p.m.
Then, on April 12th, we are reading at the library of New Mexico State University Carlsbad.  We are opening, and closing, their annual Jazz and Poetry Festival.  That starts at 3 p.m.
If you are in the area please try to attend one of our readings!  Or come to the park!  We'd love to meet you and share more stories of poetic wonder!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

3/16/2017

QUESTION ROUND #1

This is as good a time as any to answer some questions that have come up.

1.  "How can I contribute to your Tour?"
      Follow us on this blog, send us emails, follow Karla on Facebook!
      But some people have asked specifically about money contributions.  While we are certainly trying to raise corporate funds and awareness for our quest we have not established any type of official or technical mechanism for funding by individuals.  To say this clearly:  we are not a 501(c)3 organization and we have not solicited funds from individuals.  We have not set up a gofundme page nor have we set up a paypal account.  (Not that those things might not happen--we just haven't gone there yet.)  For people, or organizations, who are interested in contributing we recommend you drop us an email  at poetsparktour@gmail.com.  We'd love to hear from you!

2.  "Do you have a schedule of the parks you plan on visiting?"
Yes, we do.  We have not published that schedule yet but we do have targets set up for at least the next 2 years.  All dates more than 3-4 months out are flexible.  In fact, the order of some of the parks may change (based on weather, events, park calendars, etc.)  But for the most part we have a pretty good sense of what we plan on doing for the next year at least.  We plans on posting notices 2-3 months in advance on this blog.

3.  "How are you doing this?  Where are you finding the time and money?"
That requires a longer answer than we have time for here.  Suffice it to say:  we are finding the time and money.  This is a project of need and passion.  The parks should be celebrated.  We are finding ways and days to make it happen--using our own funds.  While we would love to consider sponsorship the project still needs to be done--and we are loving doing it!

03/16/2017--

We need to catch everyone up!

We recently got back from our 7th Park--The Dry Tortugas in Florida.

We will be posting some of the pictures in the next several days.  The Dry Tortugas is a fascinating park:  a combination of American History and environmental wonder,

And while I am posting about this trip Karla and I need to give a big shout out to the Key West Public Library for hosting a reading for us (and thank you to everyone that attended) and also a big thank you to Books&Books, the independent book store in Key West who ordered copies of our books for sale!  (Oh oh oh!  We stopped by the bookstore and met JUDY BLUME!  How gracious she was.  A golden few hours browsing among the books!)

And oh, we stayed at the Seascape Tropical Inn Bed and and Breakfast.  Highly recommended.  (Can you say mimosas every morning?)

We have so many pictures to post and so many stories to tell.  Drop us an email.  We'd love to hear from you!

Preparing for our 8th National Park!

We have so much to catch you up on!
It's going to take several posts!
First, our next stop is the Guadalupe Mountains National Park outside of El Paso.
We will be there the days of April 9th through the 12th!
We will be staying in the park (another post is forthcoming with the details
of the graciousness of the personnel involved) and performing a reading on April 11th
at the amphitheater within the park.  (And more about readings in another post!)
We are so looking forward to this park.  Not only is it in our home state
but it is the highest point in the great state of Texas!


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Our Tour

11Feb17

Words of Preservation: Poets Laureate National Parks Tour
We are karla k. morton and Alan Birkelbach
We are two Texas Poets Laureate and this is our quest.


For three years, in celebration of our National Parks’ 100th Anniversary,
we have been planning our National Parks Tour – to visit 50 Parks, write a book of poetry about the Parks, and give a percentage of the books sales back to the National Parks Foundation.

We began searching for funding, unsuccessfully, through organizations such as the Guggenheim, etc, but, unwilling to wait any longer for financial support, we began our Tour, visiting Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons National Parks in June, 2016.  We kicked off the adventure with an interview on NPR at the University of Wyoming, then visited the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Mesa Verde.

Already the magic began opening on the first day of arrival:   for the first time in 68 years a full moon rose on the solstice—and it appeared for us over  Yellowstone Lake.  
We can't wait to share that photo!

 On that trip we saw wonders of geysers and the immensity of Lamar Valley.   
We were close enough to smell the musk of Buffalo. 
We witnessed a pillar of rainbow.   
We happened upon the grave of Sacajawea.   
We picked up a coon-tail rattlesnake.

We would like to invite everyone to come along!

Like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and John Muir before us,
We would emphasize this environmental treasure. 
Through our words we would help preserve and protect.    
The National Park Service helps maintain a cultural heritage. 
Civilization is maintained and preserved by communication and language.

We intend to be two Poets Laureate exploring, and writing poems about the beauty of the National Parks.

Certain things should never fall out of social consciousness. In this digital age there is no replacement for nature at its most profound. Wonder cannot be exported or imported, but it can be captured with words—and those words can travel unlimited miles.

Society is becoming more and more an urban world.  The Parks are a gift, a legacy, something uniquely American. What better way to instill respect and inspiration to our fellow man than by bringing these beauties, in the form of books, into the four walls of his home. 
We believe poetry is every man’s art, just as the National Parks are every man’s inheritance.

“The poem has the power,” Edward Hirsch says, “the almost magical potential, to release something that dwells deep within us.” As a society we need these sacred spaces. To bring the awareness of those spaces back into the world restores the virtues of honor, nurturing, and protection. Out of these two books of poetry will perpetuate historical moments and places.

This Tour is a union of nature and the arts. In Wordsworth’s Guide to the Lakes, he stated the importance of protecting these national properties, “in which every man has a right and interest, who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy.” 
Poetry is our way to cherish this bounty; to gift it to the next seven generations.

The National Parks are priceless, and without doubt, America’s greatest resources.
These lands, while under the preservation of the government, still need champions, still need those who are willing to give their time and hearts to make sure they continue to be protected. Like Homer recounting the journey of Odysseus, we long to be the eyes and ears for the homebound, to bring our tales back to the hearth.

We are certainly not the first artists who believe inspiration can come through great natural beauty, who have fallen in love with the grandeur of our National Parks, but we want to take it one step further and try to do something incredible – to infuse that beauty into the written word – the eternal language of poetry.

Welcome to our adventure.
The wild is calling.

kk and Alan

Sunday, February 5, 2017

February 2017 National Park

02/05/2017:  We are only 10 days away from our next National Park--The Dry Tortugas!  We will be leaving out of Key West and exploring the surrounding area!