Poetry News

Providence Journal Remembers Poet Mark Baumer

By Harriet Staff
Mark Baumer

The Providence Journal shares a sweet remembrance of Mark Baumer, 33, who died in January while walking barefoot across the United States to "raise money and awareness around climate change." In her introduction to the piece, Tina Cane, poet laureate of Rhode Island, explains that yesterday's column was supposed to be written by Baumer. In his absence, she asked S. Tourjee and Darcie Dennigan to share their memories of the young poet lost too soon. "I did not know Mark, but from his work I do know that his community misses him deeply. I also know that he should be recognized here, to a larger community, for the example of his humanity. Mark was a young person, impassioned by his beliefs and his work, who lived vigorously in accordance with their demands. He sounds like the kind of person we should all hope to be when we grow up. Here’s a sample of Mark’s poetry and tributes by two people who knew him." From there: 

Mark Baumer was huge. A towering person who seemed to make art in every moment of life. He seemed not to sleep. He published 50 books in one year. He walked across the United States in 81 days and blogged about it the entire way. He worked a full-time job at a library, where he joined the union. He became an activist, protesting to protect the environment and people more vulnerable than himself. He made scores of videos of his daily experiences. He ran barefoot, ate only plant-based food.

He endeavored to walk the length of this nation a second time, this time barefoot. And this time his purpose was clear — he would raise $10,000 for The FANG Collective, a Rhode Island nonprofit fighting for environmental justice. His blog, videos, took on a new urgency as Mark Baumer found his purpose and pursued it with the unique gifts of his person. Mark Baumer was a writer, an artist, a strong body full of energy, and a love so bright and determined it knew no limits. Could he save the planet?

I love Mark Baumer for these reasons, and because knowing him has meant that I will always know that a person and artist like Mark Baumer can exist. Knowing Mark Baumer has also meant knowing that someone like Mark Baumer can die. What a tragedy to learn it. But maybe even this is included in the things we must try to look at through our teardrops.

I followed Mark’s posts from the road and I felt, even through the election as the world feels darker and the road so long and frightening, still Mark Baumer sleeps on the ground, gets up in the morning, walks and writes until it’s night, crosses this country, and I was reassured. Mark Baumer was doing the things he could do, to the fullest extent possible. And as I watched him I felt that though my abilities and limits are different from Mark Baumer’s, I want to do what I can do for as long as I can do it. And so I will.

— S. Tourjee, Providence writer and artist

Read Darcie Dennigan's contribution and more at Providence Journal

Originally Published: August 11th, 2017
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