by Len Germinara
Beck Fee Barsanti is a student at the Nantucket Lighthouse School. He’s written his first book of poetry Watching Life Unfold. I’ve had the pleasure of being one of the first people that he’s shared it with. It’s full of insight and wonder and will be available at this year’s Nantucket Book Festival. I sat down recently with him to discuss the book, why he wrote it, and life on Nantucket.
Len: Beck is an unusual and memorable first name, there must be an interesting story behind it, is there?
Beck: The story I’ve been told revolves around baseball and a player by the name of Rod Beck. Mom and Dad (Sydney Fee and Bob Barsanti) decided Beck would be a cool first name. I’m not sure the story is interesting but I like the name because it’s unusual.
Len: As a prerequisite to graduating eighth grade at the Lighthouse School you had to complete a final project, you chose to write a book of poetry. Why?
Beck: When I was younger, my dad used to read to me at night, it was part of our routine. He read poems to me, and we would talk about them and their meaning — all through my schooling poetry has been involved. I’ve always liked how it’s made me feel, and I generally get positive responses when people have read my work. Writing poetry is one of the ways I try to work through questions and problems.
Len: You write many poems about the natural world, is there a secret or special formula to writing about nature?
Beck: As a Jr. Ranger for the UMass Boston Nantucket Field Station I’ve learned how to identify and name plants and animals as a basis for learning more about what it is I’m observing. I also look for places to write that I think might inspire me, like the Hidden Forest or the vernal pond at the Field Station.
Len: It seems obvious the Jr. Ranger program is something you feel strongly about, you’re donating the proceeds from this book to it as well as your weekly duties as a volunteer. Would you tell us what being a Jr. Ranger is and what it means to you?
Beck: The program is an internship: we Rangers take care of the Field Station grounds and take visitors on nature walks every day. The program has allowed me to be part of a team that is non-competitive and challenging at the same time. We work together using field guides for identification, and we’ll make a game out of who can identify the most during a walk around the Field Station. The part I like best is taking visitors on a guided tour of the station. It’s very spontaneous, it reminds me of live theatre. It’s been a way to step beyond what I feel comfortable doing, into something I want to try and accomplish.
Len: What is it that you want to accomplish with this book?
Beck:: I want to get people interested in protecting the environment and to raise funds for a good cause.
Here are couple of the poems you’ll find in Beck’s Watching Life Unfold.
The Vernal Pool
Dark and cold, the vernal pool
Lies tucked away and empty.
A red oak tree looms above it,
Inviting those brave enough for a closer look.
The pool is filled with dark, crimson water
Recycled from the rain.
Home to many amphibians
And bacteria galore.
Bushes line the outer rim
Protecting this pool from wind and storms.
But sun and rain is welcomed in,
By a break in limbs above.
The pool regenerates and varies
So long as there is rain.
The water dries, the cavity fills,
Over and over again.
Down Polpis Road the rangers walked
With cleanup claws and TV talk.
To rid the brush and side of street
Of plastic and trash for Len to eat.
From white plastic and butts from cigarette smoke
To tinfoil on which our birds will choke.
From Budweiser cans with liquor still in them
To full soggy trash bags stuck in plant stems.
So Nantucketers please, do us a favor
And throw trash out at home to save kids some labor!