Thursday, January 14, 2016
“Poetry has a lot to offer a world in crisis — and, in particular, in environmental crisis. For centuries, poets have given voice to our collective trauma: naming injustices, reclaiming stolen language, and offering us courage to imagine a more just world. In a world such as ours, poetry is an act of cultural resilience.” – Melissa Tuckey, “Introduction on Ecojustice Poetry”, Poetry Magazine, January 2016.
I want to gently urge you all to read the January 2016 issue of Poetry Magazine, which is dedicated to ecojustice poetry. The human right to a healthy environment feels clear, alive, and magical when you are in the midst of reading these poems and prose. Sitting in what seems to be the middle of this grey, frigid, winter landscape, finally arrived, I need inspiration to put on the several layers of clothes required to walk outside, let alone inspiration to seek environmental justice for all. While I have never thought of myself as a lover of poetry; it’s growing on me. I appreciate the celebration of language, the oddity of content and structure, the imagery, and the freedom of poetry. Also, I’m learning not to dwell on logic when reading poetry, which seems to be a good lesson for reading emails from my law students as well.
If you don’t know where to start or don’t have time to savor each and every poem, start with From “summer, somewhere” by Danez Smith, which more obviously than others touches directly on race, environment and justice. Maybe then read Crossing a City Highway by Yusef Komunyakaa to see the urban landscape come to life with its subtle references to severe environmental degradation. And don’t miss Water Devil by Jamaal May, who makes me feel like I can reach out and grab the things he is describing.