Updated: Apr 27
Despite the obstacles presented in the COVID-19 pandemic, Poet David Crews made an appearance in one of PCCC’s English II classes via Zoom on Monday, April 13.
Crews' visit is part of a program, Dr. Christine Redman-Waldeyer, Associate Professor of English initiated when she began teaching Honors course sections last fall. Dr. Redman-Waldeyer wanted to bring in one on one meetings with published authors for students. Nancy Gerber author of We Are All Refugees visited Fall of 2018 and Ysabel Gonzalez, author of Wild Invocations visited Spring of 2019.
The class opened up with hearing Crews explain his inspirations behind his writing. Crews explained that his works were influenced by the environment and the issues that affect it.
Besides poetry, Crews developed many essays that discuss environmental challenges such as white privilege and climate change.
"Concerns like trail erosion and overuse (what ecologists refer to as a "legacy effect" on the ecosystem) come into play. Then, what you can also examine is it takes money and time and transportation to get to wild spaces to enjoy the outdoors. Do inner city residents really have the same kinds of access to wild spaces as others? " Crews explained.
Later in the class, Crews shared a number of poems from his published book, High Peaks, a collection of poetry that archive Crews’ journey of the “Adirondack 46ers”.
The Adirondack 46ers were an organization of hikers whose mission is to hike traditional peaks of the Adirondack Mountains, which are located in Up-state New York.
When discussing the Adirondack Mountains, Crews shared his connection to Native American culture, specifically to the tribes of the Algonquin, Wachu and Mohican.
Crews shared, he was not always a full time writer, but a High School Senior English teacher for 15 years.
After realizing that he wanted more writing opportunities, Crews quit his teaching job and pursued a different career.
Crews is now an Assistant Editor of Platform Review with ARTS By The People, a nonprofit organization that seeks to provide creative opportunity to the public.
Many of the students were intrigued by Crews’ theories and inspirations to his works. Students had notepads and pencils ready to take note of his ideas and techniques.
It is clear that the college is determined to continue giving an enriching education, despite the pandemic.
Dr. Redman-Waldeyer, said she was extremely excited when David Crews was willing to jump in on a zoom platform and speak to her students. A lesson on Ecocriticism, a study of literature and the environment which examines the various ways literature treats the subject of nature immediately brought Crews to mind. "I knew that David Crews was a wildnerness advocate and brought that to his poetry," said Redman-Waldeyer.
In addition to this Dr. Redman-Waldeyer said she feels that getting beyond just reading the works of literature to understanding the motivation and inspiration that a writer goes through helps students understand the process of writing. "What better way of connecting to literature than to talk to the author themselves." She also believes that the students who are willing to go the extra mile to be in an Honors Program should have opportunities they would not normally have in the regular classroom. "It's a thank you to the students who appreciate scholarly life."
To learn more about Crews and his mission to bring awareness to preservation through writing and action see https://www.davidcrewspoetry.com/.