ecopoetics #2, page 72

Bromeliads is meant to explore subtle changes, like light changing on the tropical gloss of leaves as the sun shifts in the sky.

Variants. Yet these blocks are too heavy to ever shift like light on leaves. I wonder about variants. How to participate. I’m not sure this technology achieves the dynamic potential.

Bromeliads, full digital version

How digital versions of text can never be more than an experiment, because they are missing pieces.

Thinking about Dickinson’s alternate word choices. How to write both/several. How to write deep into multiplicity. Noticing that my sentences often come out of order.

I visited Costa Rica – La Fortuna, hummingbirds, volcano. Monteverde. I wonder about travel. I wrote a long poem (nine pages), just words about Costa Rica. I read it in a church and the audience was bored. I wanted to deliver hummingbirds, howlers, howevers.

The subtle changes of digital versions. I iterated through “decomposition of weeds” and posted three different versions before I settled on one. Still feeling something is missing.

Variants that emphasize the missingness. But the static piece is an illusion of whole. Urge to develop skills in video. Urge to deliver light changing on leaves. Urge to participate.


ecopoetics 2 – fall 2002
Joel Felix and Laura Nash

This piece posed a problem for me, and led to a stall. I wanted to skip it. Today I reread it, and suddenly found the appeal. It is the story of a walk. Anyone can do this. Start out with a semi-intention, ramble on your feet, point your eyes in some direction, take photographs, notice, then retrace your ramble in words, with extra rumbles thrown in at that point.

I do this – my ominous walk pre-Sandy, pre-Halloween. A neighbor was blowing leaves off his lawn.

I have many walk narratives, starting when I was a teenager, “The Journey of Water,” in which I followed storm water flowing briskly down the gutters along our rural route. It had a surprise ending.

“Exotics” is not a tight essay, maybe I had that expectation. This narrative is unsettling in the way it doesn’t cohere, the patter(n) seems too loose, elements appear and disappear without prepared context.

But it also has qualities that mimic a nice long walk. The very fine notice of sensations, the ease of moving into abstractions (musing), the meander along strands from the knowledge base, the impulse of exit into surroundings again. Not needing to be a tight essay.

One puzzling element: the presence of the beret-wearing Interlocutor.


New word! It describes a collection of texts (poetry and prose) from early Irish literature explaining the origins of place names.

From Oregon Quarterly article, Oregon’s Epic Estuaries, by Michael Strelow:

In twelfth-century Ireland, every aspiring poet had to learn—in addition to meters, forms, and techniques—dindsenchus, or the lore of high places, the topography of all the important places in Ireland about which a poet might write. Dindsenchus included prevailing winds and rains, prominent plants, limestone caverns and outcroppings, magical properties of the landscape, and especially water—loughs (lakes, including lakes that come and go seasonally), rivers, sea inlets, and springs. A poet could begin to write only after being certain of the where of the poem.

From wikipedia:

Knowledge of the real or putative history of local places formed an important part of the education of the elite in ancient Ireland. This formed part of the training of the military, for whom a knowledge of the landscape was essential. It was also essential knowledge for the bardic caste, who were expected to recite poems answering questions on place name origins as part of their professional duties. Consequently, the dindshenchas may well have grown by accretion from local texts compiled in schools as a way of teaching about places in their area.


ecopoetics volume 2

I want to quarrel with this essay.

I find this commentary on the problematic problematic:

However, traditional Nature poetry, à la the human-subject meditating upon a natural object-landscape-animal as a doorway into meaning of the human subject’s life, is now highly problematic.

Poetry written with intent, especially moral or political intent, is very problematic, but I also realize that it’s inevitable that I write with intent.

If this poetry is problematic/bad, then what is good? How is good poetry made, how does it work, and what does it do? I would like answers to these questions, and seek them in the essay. Further contemplation needed to condense, so ending this post here.


Ecopoetics volume 2, pages 56 and 57

These are called Stills. I’m not sure why, maybe that is a technical term.

A loose form, starting with a topic defined in the title (Still: Environmentalism, Still: Flight) followed by a set of attributes, each of which is followed by more detail. It reminds me of a writer’s or designer’s notebook, capturing a lot of thoughts or impressions about a thing, with labels.

An appealing combination of mind moves: rigorous data gathering juxtaposed against whimsically intuitive leaps juxtaposed against each other. The leaps don’t always make sense, but the pile up of datapoints seems to give a roundness, a fullness, a sense that the poet has spent some time with the topic, although not exhausting it.

I like this form. I might try it out myself. You could set this up as a grid ahead of time and fill it in quickly, associatively, without thinking too hard.

Still: (topic)


“the blue heron stole a little book / of recipes”

3-4-00, from blue heron & ibc
ecopoetics volume 2, page 53

I enjoy reading Jack Collom. I find his work gentle, intriguing, childlike. I like the Blue Heron selections a lot. They remind me of Native American poetry that personifies animals. I’ve been prejudiced against the personification of animals, because I so dislike commercials that personify animals to sell products. But these poems made me appreciate personification as at least an imaginative act that engages another species in a rather familiar way. An “approach.”

I read Jack Collom’s extended essay online: An Ecosystem of Writing Ideas.

A few quotes that mesh with my own thoughts about ecopoetry:

If poetry is, as I believe, the sort of writing in which the intimate relationality of each phrase, word, and syllable to its surroundings is most crucial, then poetry is an intensely ecological study in itself, and poems written about poetry are doubly ecological. All of the methods mentioned here, and more, serve to illuminate poetry to its own exploratory eye. (eco12.html)

Availability of forms should be multiplied by several hundred. To make this availability felt, the emphasis of “nature’s” definition must be moved to say something like “that within which we bob and swim.” This will be, for all practical purposes, an infinity to work in.

Someone might argue that we should each master one or two forms (styles, genres), but I think that generally with creative writing, as with learning different languages, the more variety you undertake the more unity of essence (mastery, coverage) you achieve. Were someone to argue that depth is more important than breadth I’d say depth consists of variation even more than breadth does. (eco12.html)


ecopoetics, volume 2, page 52

Aliens. And time. I appreciate this poem. The poet draws a comparison between the struggle to remove invasive species and the struggle against immigration. Purity.

I always thought efforts to remove invasive species were futile. Survival of the fittest, nature bats last, etc.

It is unfortunate to watch and endure the changes to biota wrought by invasive species. I can see why people want to do something about it.

I can’t quite use the same tone for human immigration. The changes are challenging.

Dependability of Flux.