Poet, earth advocate, to appear at Gardnerville bookstore
After years of world travel, championing the plight of wild horses, the mountain tapir of South America and writing two books, Craig Carpenter Downer, 57, a fourth-generation Nevadan, felt ready to release “Streams of the Soul.”
The north Douglas County man made it his lifelong quest to save endangered species, which is reflected in his new book of poetry. The book also addresses philosophies of life and religious ideas.
“It’s pretty broad in its scope. A lot of my poems address the urgent crisis of the earth today,” said Downer, who compiled many of his works from the early 1990s to the 2000s into the 341-page volume. “I’ve been writing all my life, and it started developing into poetry.”
Downer will be available to talk about his new book at a poetry reading at the Eddy Street Book Exchange at 2 p.m. on Feb. 4.
Downer said it is his experience and education that has made him qualified to be an advocate for animals and be able to get his ideas across to others in speaking and in writing.
“I continue to weigh my efforts on a variety of fronts,” said Downer.
“It’s really important to get out there and get to know what’s out there,” said the man who has belonged to the Peace Corps., worked as a wild horse watchdog for the Animal Protection Institute and conducted numerous field studies in the Andes and other areas of the world.
“After you know what’s out there then you have to communicate the information to the people.”
Downer works with governments – local, state, national and international – to preserve wilderness areas and wild species. He has written letters of protest about the wild horses situation in the Pine Nuts and in Ely.
“They’re being squeezed out, even in their legal herd areas,” said Downer. “I’m saying enough is enough.”
This effort coincides with his work as an advocate for the mountain tapir of the Andes. He and others are trying to create a sanctuary along the Ecuadorian border to save the tapir, a 200-400 pound creature with woolly black fur and a flexible snout, a relative of horses and rhinos, that inhabit jungle and forest lands in Central and South America as well as in Southeast Asia. The sanctuary would prevent mining in the border region, which contaminates the ecosystem in South America, as well as in Nevada, according to Downer.
“What a waste they’ve left after they’re done,” said Downer.
He compared the tapir to the wild horse and said both animals, through depositing feces that contain seeds, help revegetate the land.
Downer’s résumé is endless, including writing environmental articles for scientific publications, being featured in national and international TV shows including Discovery’s “Animal Planet,” speaking at presentations and working with graduate students, professors and computer specialists on environmental analysis.
He created the nonprofit Andean Tapir Fund (andeantapirfund.com) and is a member of the organizations IUCN-World Conservation Union, Species Survival Commission, Tapir Specialist Group, American Society of Mammalogists, University of Nevada, Reno, and University of California, Berkeley, Alumni and the Nevada Poetry Society.
He attended the University of California, Berkeley, graduating with honors in 1972, earned his masters at the University of Nevada, Reno, in 1976 and conducted Ph.D. studies at the University of Kansas, Lawrence and the University of Durham, UK. throughout 1979, the 1980s and 1990s.
His first two books were “Wild Horses: Living Symbols of Freedom” and “The Spiritual Evolution.” His most recent book, “Streams of the Soul,” is available online at http://www.publishamerica.com/books/10040 or at Borders Books on Topsy Lane.
Downer will bring copies of his book to sell at the Eddy Street Book Exchange, 225 Eddy St., Gardnerville, at 2 p.m. on Feb. 4, where he will also read his poetry aloud.
Another Douglas County poet, Ryan Cunningham, who has authored seven books of poetry, will also present his works at the Gardnerville bookstore on Feb. 4.
For more information on the poetry reading, call the Eddy Street Book Exchange at 782-5484.
Craig Carpenter Downer wrote the following poem, published in “Streams of the Soul,” while walking in a Nevada desert:
Poem to Wild Horses
I write a poem
about the wild horse,
’cause there’s a lot of feeling here,
albeit much long suffering
and abuse by man – most gruesome!
… Yet, too, vast wide-open spaces,
and MANY lives lived out
with Grace and in Joyful Freedom!
-T’is a saga of the Old West
– and I believe the New –
this story of the wild horse,
this enduring, wind-drinking
runner of desert and plain,
as – Alas!- of very Time!
His story is one with yours and mine.
May he reach far upon this Earth Plane!
For ‘t is a saga of what this Land is yet to be,
of a Destiny yet unfulfilled,
when Man and Horse in Freedom live
once again with mutual Respect.