Celebrate Poetry Month and Earth Day: EcoPoetics

Celebrate Earth day with Wesleyan University Press’s EcoPoetic publications! Poets consider ecological and social collapse and our shared responsibilities in the contemporary moment.

Collected from contributors including Brenda Hillman, Eileen Tabios, and Christopher Cokinos, Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing Within the Anthropocene compiles terms—borrowed, invented, recast—that help configure or elaborate human engagement with place. Each entry is a work of art concerned with contemporary poetics and environmental justice backed with sound observation and scholarship.

In Trophic Cascade, Camille Dungy writes positioned at a fulcrum, bringing a new life into the world even as her elders are passing on. In a time of massive environmental degradation, violence and abuse of power, these poems resonate within and beyond the scope of the human realms, all the while holding an impossible love and a commitment to hope.
In his newest collection Asked What Has Changed, Ed Roberson confronts the realities of an era in which the fate of humanity and the very survival of our planet are uncertain, speaking life and truth to modernity in all its complexity and giving us a new language to process the feeling of living in a century on the brink. His previous book, To See the Earth Before the End of the World, raises searing questions about the natural world and our place in it.
Brenda Hillman’s tetralogy on the elements includes Cascadia, Pieces of Air in the Epic, Seasonal Works with Letters on Fireand Extra Hidden Life, among the DaysEmbodied in syntax as unpredictable as the earth’s movements, these poetic forms speak to and query the landforms as the line between faith and science blurs.

Angrily Standing Outside in the Wind

from Extra Hidden Life, among the Days by Brenda Hillman
   —kept losing self control
    but how could one lose the self
 after reading so much literary theory?
The shorter “i” stood under the cork trees,
     the taller “I” remained rather passive;
 the brendas were angry at the greed, angry
that the trees would die, had lost interest
 in the posturing of the privileged,
   the gaps between can’t & won’t…
   Stood outside the gate of permissible
       sound & the wind came soughing
through the doubt debris
(soughing comes from swāgh—to resound…
echo actually comes from this also—)
  we thought of old Hegel across
the sea—the Weltgeist—& clouds
went by like the bones of a Kleenex…
        it’s too late for countries
but it’s not too late for trees…
  & the wind kept soughing
  with its sound sash, wind with
        its sound sash,    increasing
bold wind with its sound sash,
            increasing bold—
Related title: American Poets in the 21st Century: The Poetics of Social Engagement, a collection that emphasizes the ways in which innovative American poets have blended art and social awareness, focusing on aesthetic experiments and investigations of ethnic, racial, gender, and class subjectivities.