My Earth Day piece for The Tyee, “Connecting to Planet Earth Through Poetry” has just been posted which may whet your appetite for some recent environmentally themed poems and anthologies published locally. Of course, there are many poets who have committed themselves to writing environmentally themed poems over the past decades! Wish I could have included them all.
In his book, Where is the Fiction About Climate Change? Amitav Ghosh stated, “Why does climate change cast a much smaller shadow on literature than it does on the world? Is it perhaps too wild a stream to be navigated in the accustomed barques of narration? But the truth, as is now widely acknowledged, is that we have entered a time when the wild has become the norm: if certain literary forms are unable to negotiate these waters, then they will have failed – and their failures will have to be counted as an aspect of the broader imaginative and cultural failure that lies at the heart of the climate crisis.”
This may or may not be true about fiction, but climate change has played a huge part in poetry. Think of two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet, W. S. Merwin, his poetry and his lifelong work to reclaim a deforested former pineapple plantation on Maui that turned it into a lush biodiverse conservancy. There’s a fabulous documentary about Merwin’s life and work, Even Though The Whole World is Burning which I highly recommend. (He reads a few poems in a short fundraising teaser about the making of the film as well.)
I hope you enjoy the poems, recordings and books mentioned in my Tyee piece. And just in case you have room for one more poem, here’s a link to a poem written and read by Rita Wong, “Holders” from her book, undercurrent (Nightwood, 2015) which was recorded for Poetry London that you can watch here. Happy Earth Day, everyone!