Op-Ed

During O, Miami poetry month, come learn the language of trees

Black-throated Blue Warbler rests on a tree in Kendall Indian Hammocks Park.
Black-throated Blue Warbler rests on a tree in Kendall Indian Hammocks Park.

Trees are known to communicate to one another through an underground network, a kind of fungal and bacterial internet. It’s possible that they have something to say to us, as well. I invite our community to take a walk in a nearby park or anywhere in your neighborhood where you might come across some trees.

O, Miami’s “Oracle in the Trees” is a contemplative, guided walk in a pine rockland habitat, which is endangered and unique to this region. The walk is informed by environmentally focused healing practices such as shinrin yoku (forest bathing), horticultural therapy and ecotherapy. Participants will explore the ecology of the landscape while engaging in a series of sensory experiences focusing on poetry, reflection and deep listening.

In the spirit of the divination of Hafez, a 14th-century Persian mystic and poet, I want your intuitive radar to guide you to a tree that you can connect with for a time. Gaze upon the tree and stay with it for a while. When you are ready, introduce yourself by name to the tree. Share your family surnames, tracing as many generations as you can recall. Share how you and your family came to be here today. Travel back in time five years, 50 years, 100 years. Inquire with the tree about the people and places it has witnessed throughout its lifetime, and listen for what it might have to tell you.

My recent projects are designed for city residents to have intimate and creative encounters with their environment. They begin to see the city in a different way by disrupting their assumptions about their surroundings. Improving human capacity to foster respectful relationships and deeper communication with nature also strengthens the long-term health of natural landscapes. I’m dedicated to exploring the connection between non-human and human health through contemplative art and creative research. By engaging the mutual benefits of nature connection, I’m supporting a culture shift to resist climate crisis and ecological devastation.

These slow walks encourage intimate and creative encounters with nature. Participants are asked to pause and wonder, and to reconsider the presence of non-human life in the landscape. One of the invitations is a gesture of biblomancy, as practiced in Iran, where my family is from. Participants will choose a scroll with poetry by Hafez. Fate dictates the passage they will receive. Participants will contemplate the passage that fortune has gifted to them and interpret how it connects to their life.

Many claim that because of the cultural specificity of the language and complexity of meaning, Hafez is impossible to translate to other languages. The same could be said of the language of trees and other beings such as animals, stones and lichen.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t try.

Join artist Fereshteh Toosi in a sensory forest walk to discover secrets in both written and natural poetry; 10-noon, April 21, at Kendall Indian Hammocks Park, 11395 Southwest 79th Street. For more information, go to omiami.org.

Join artist Fereshteh Toosi in a sensory forest walk, and discover secrets in both written and natural poetry! Bibliomancy is the art of fortune telling practiced by interpreting randomly chosen passages from sacred texts. We’ll allow the fates to guide us while taking a leisurely stroll in the pine rocklands, an endangered ecosystem that is unique to south Florida. Together we’ll explore the forest ecology while engaging in a series of sensory experiences focusing on relaxation, reflection, and the poetry of Hafez, a 14th century Persian mystic. Sat., April 21, 10:00am-noon, at Kendall Indian Hammocks Park, 11395 Southwest 79th Street. omiami.org

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