JONATHAN SKINNER / WHY ECOPOETICS?
ecopoetics volume 1
I’m getting a little tired of ecopoetics, volume 1. I’ve been living with it a long time. I’m eager to move on to CECILIA VICUÑA, and then volume 2, but I am stalled on Jonathan Skinner’s essay.
Why stalled? It is a cerebral challenge. It is a thought piece. I swirl in thoughts when engaged only in that part of the body. I strive too hard to achieve brilliance and inescapably true conclusions. I want to weave together the thought strands of the whole world into one pinnacle flag that will declare me the winner.
Heh. Not possible, is it.
I thought about composing this piece as a letter, a response. I got tired. I let it gestate too long in my head. It got rotten.
A component: I am very tired of the way everyone in contemporary poetry has to engage with “Language” writing and the issue of accessibility or difficulty. I don’t even want to say anything about this. I want to just let it evolve. Time will tell. Or I may say “Time is on my side.”
A component: Reading “On Whitman” at the same time I was hanging with this essay. Whitman I would call “accessible.” (There it is again.) He also took walks. The thought occurred to me: “Has Whitman ruined poetry for everyone to follow him?” The answer cannot be Yes. But we certainly cannot write in that exalted, optimistic, spiritually engaged mode anymore – or can we? Is it time for the poetry of the apocalypse? Whitman wrote through the Civil War years. It must have seem’d that it was over. Yet he dug in and claimed a poetry of tremendous energy, emotion, and optimism.
A question: Can Whitman’s poetry and Jonathan Skinner’s essay co-exist in the same mental space?
A thought: Ecopoetry could be written by a person sitting in a room, a person who never leaves the house.
A skepticism: I’m not sure I buy the idea of a cross-species poetics.
That’s all I have to say right now. To let Skinner have his say:
All of these directions may complicate, enrich or hopelessly muddle the writing of poetry at the start of a new millenium; they may mistake the very meaning of the human; certainly there is no guarantee of success. (106)