Why the focus on environmental poetry?

Sir Philip Sidney defending poetry said, “Nature[…] her world is brazen, the poets only deliver a golden.” While poetry may deliver a golden world in place of the natural, this vision of a golden world is in sharp contrast with growing ecological threats and disasters looming on the horizon. Disasters that might still be preventable with the right combination of thinking and effort.

My deep connection with the natural environment seems to transcend my memories of that connection. The shapes of trees I frequented stand out more than recollections of other places and times. Experiences like picking blueberries in Algonquin Park and seeing a Buffalo herd roam across Yellowstone’s hilly-plains are more present in my mind than the less vivid stuff of days past.

Once a person is touched by the quiet of a Fall morning, or the chattering of flighty birds in a canopy, the setting usually works its own magic to the point they would spend all their time in deep meditation if they could.

The enjoyment of being in nature was kindled for me by a childhood filled with tent-camping in beavers, cubs, scouts, ventures, army cadets, and in an ecology diploma from Fleming College.

Ecology is the study of interactions between biotic (living), abiotic (non-living), and cultural (socio-political) elements measured across the medium of space-time. Ecology illuminates a plethora of evidence against human kind on the charges of species extinction and poor stewardship. So, perhaps, by learning more about ecology and poetry, questions might be resolved about the nature of our complex relation to Mother Earth.

Everything on the planet is part of one living ecosystem. I am curious about what poets from different eras and backgrounds had to say about their relation to the natural environment. The ad-mixture of science and poetry is always a fine mix and should produce something for all to learn from.

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