A new way that poetry and the environment are coming together is in the modern poetic genre of ECOPOETICS!
Ecopoetry is poetry with a strong ecological/environmental message that connects to the world and implies responsibility. It has only recently begun to be recognized as a sub-genre of English speaking poetry. Ecopoetics is different from nature poetry, in that it explores the complex connections between humans and nature.
“Nature is no longer the rustic retread of the Wordsworthian Poet. . .[it} is now a pressing political question, a question of survival?” Jay Parini, Poetry and the Environment: A Question of Survival?
The term began to be used more widely with the publication of L.Scott Bryson’s Ecopoetry: A Critical Introduction in 2002. Around the same time, the journal Ecopoetics began using the term to include writing in general. A number of anthologies, using the ideas of ecopoetics, as founding principles began publishing including: Earth Shattering : Ecopoems edited by Neil Ashley.
In his blog Jacket 2, Jonathan Skinner, founder and editor of Ecopoetics, and an ecopoet in his own right, described the term as being more used than discussed. Ecopoetics, according to Skinner, is a complex term used by readers and others to explain a range of manifestations from the making and studying of “pastoral poetry or poetry of wilderness and deep ecology to poetry that confronts disasters and environmental injustices, and every social and academic definition and explanation in between.”
The Poetry Foundation defines ecopoetics as “similar to ethnopoetry in its emphasis on drawing connections between human activity, specifically the making of poems-and the environment that produces it.” Ecopoetry came out of the increasing concerns and interests in potential environmental disasters that arose in the middle of the last century. It began as a multidisciplinary approach that includes thinking and writing on poetics, science and theory.
Some contemporary ecopoets include: Alice Oswald, Gary Snyder, Jack Collom and Juliana Shar. On a final note I would like to honor a forerunner of the ecopoetry movement and one of my personal favorites, Robinson Jeffers.