Plateau Province Poetics
Witnessing the Anthropocene
Plateau Province Poetics (PPP) is a yearlong course offered by Young Bloods Collective to residents of
Routt county/the Yampa Valley. The course is split up into 4 quarters. Each quarter has its own micro theme that will tie back into the overall theme, witnessing the Anthropocene in the WEST.
PPP students will be expected to read 6‐10 books, listen to 5‐10 albums, podcasts, audiobooks, and attend at least
one field trip each quarter of the class. The “final” will be the creation of a work(s) that reflects the deeper understanding gained of the WEST throughout the year. Creations can be visual, audio, verbal, and anything else. Class creations will be displayed as the YBC group show, February 2019.
Wallace Stegner considered the WEST to be anything beyond the 100th Meridian, his wonderful biography of John Wesley Powell of that name will be part of the foundation we build this class on. The WEST is semi‐arid to arid, a hydraulic civilization with little water, our lives revolve around water; even if
now, in our modern day we are not so intimately aware of that relationship as we once were. Geologists are still debating whether we remain in the Holocene epoch (modern day era of the geologic time scale) or if humans have altered the planet enough to leave evidence of it in the fossil record, pushing us into a new epoch, The Anthropocene. PPP will not address that debate, rather, we will examine the WEST through the lens of the Anthropocene. The Sixth Extinction (the other foundation for this course) offers a heart wrenching case for the fact that we are already living in the Anthropocene, and I would
recommend reading Beyond the 100th Meridian and The 6th Extinction either in that order or simultaneously. If we are living in the Anthropocene, in a region where the little water we have is over allocated, what do we do? Can we effect change? Or has the pendulum swung so far that the most, the best we can do, is to bear witness to the change? I don’t know the answers to those questions, and I don’t know that any of the authors, singers, scientists, artists we will study have the answers either, but it is my sincere hope that over the course of this year we can teach each other to be more observant of the world and region we inhabit. I hope that we can turn those observations in creations that encourage others to become more aware of the WEST and the Anthropocene.
PPP will meet at least once a month to discuss readings and audio selections. After the first 2 books mentioned above, I encourage students to engage with the material in whatever order appeals to them, all these selections bleed into each other, there is no fear of “spoilers”.
The quarters are themed as follows:
Q1‐ The Anthropocene; The WEST
Q2 – Predator/Prey: The Sagebrush Sea
Q3 – The Quarter Section Dream
Q4 – To Bear Witness
YBC will have 1 classroom set of books available for rental, but purchase of the books is highly recommended. PPP is $250/student for the entire year. If you are a YBC member, the cost is $200/student. Class will begin on or around the Winter Solstice (December 21). 12 spots are available for this inaugural program and once I have a full roster of students we will work out a schedule for the monthly meetings.
Plateau Province Poetics FAQ’s
1. Who is conducting this program? What are their credentials? The idea sounds great, however,
what makes this different from the field courses I took in college?
My name is Emily Waldron and Plateau Province Poetics is my creation. I have a BS in
Geology from the University of Puget Sound and nearly 10 years of work experience in
the oilfield and regulation of the oilfield in Colorado and all over the western US. Last
summer I attended Naropa University's Summer Writing Program, which boasts a legacy
including Ginsberg and Collum. I was able to spend one week studying with Lisa Jarnot
and she is the one who gave me the idea to "teach" a class about my passions, in a less
formal setting than a community college or university. She taught a similarly structured
class out of her apartment in New York city in 2015. This will be different than a field
class, at least of the variety that I took in college, because I truly want it to be multi‐
disciplinary. I want the science to bleed into the poetry, into the painting, into the
photographs...I want the scenery to make people ask questions of a more scientific
nature. I want those questions to lead to questions and discussions about past, present
and future land use in the WEST. I want us to begin thinking enough about the
Anthropocene to see its presence everywhere. This class will also be different because
after the first 2 books each quarter's texts and other materials can be consumed in the
order and pace which suites each individual. I hope that this method will encourage
inter‐disciplinary works and discussions during our monthly meetings.
2. Where does the money go? Is this a purely Young Bloods venture? Are the funds I might contribute
to this course going into more Young Bloods programming? Or is this going into the pocket of the instructor?
The fee to take PPP will go directly into funding our field trips (gas, motels, car rentals,
incidentals, food) and into purchasing a set of "classroom" books which can be checked out
if you are taking PPP. It is a goal of YBC to design other programs like this, and to pay the
instructors of the courses a reasonable amount of compensation. However, I am more
inclined in this situation to donate my time so that all the fees can be used to make the class
as immersive and exploratory as I imagine it can be.
3. Is this a program focused purely on place?
PPP is not focused purely on place. It is designed to spark a deeper creative link to the
area we live in, but it is not just a history class, not just a class where we check off scenic
points in our backyard. I have a list of ideas for each quarter's field trip, I am waiting to
finalize that based on the number of students I end up with, their time and mobility, and
the amount of funding YBC is able to raise for this. My dream trip would be a 4 day
rafting trip through Gates of Lodore, that one is definitely funding dependent!
4. What is the time commitment to take the course?
Students can take the entire year long course or can take individual quarters. We will
meet once a month to discuss readings. The time and place will be determined each
quarter, and each meeting will last several hours. Meeting twice a month for shorter
times is also an option. Each quarter will require a one or two day field trip. The final for
all students, taking a quarter or the entire year, is to exhibit one piece in the group