Ecopoetry

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The term Ecopoetry has come into recent, popular use as a means of denoting poetry with a strong ecological emphasis or message as, "ecopoetry forms a tone of reconnection towards nature, resistance towards the anti-ecological perspectives and shares a vision for the healthy environmental laws and policies to be enhanced for the better and healthy environment."(Copyright@ Naseer76).

Background[edit]

Naturally, across the ages, many poets, poems and books of poems have expressed ecological concerns; but it is only relatively recently that the neologism has gained momentum and acceptability. There is now, in English-speaking poetry, a recognisable sub-genre of poetry having a distinctively Ecopoetic thrust.

Prior to the term becoming well-known or fashionable, a number of forerunning books had delivered a potent Ecological message: although these poets did not mention the word overtly, they were clearly 'Ecopoetic' in stance and exerted a priming influence on the subsequent popularity of the sub-genre. Examples include: The White Poem by Jay Ramsay & Carole Bruce (Rivelin Grapheme Press, 1988), Bosco (Hearing Eye, 1999; 2001)[1] and (more recently) Heavy Water: a poem for Chernobyl (Enitharmon Press, 2004) [2].

One of a number of seminal texts helping to introduce the term into wider, critical use was Ecopoetry: a Critical Introduction edited by J. Scott Bryson (2002). Another example of the burgeoning use of the term at the millennial turn was the journal Ecopoetics,[1] which broadened the term from poetry into poiesis interpreted as making/writing more generally.

Since then, a spate of poetry anthologies and books has appeared, either employing the word explicitly or using the idea as a guiding principle. Recent instances include Alice Oswald's The Thunder Mutters (2005) and the ground-breaking Earth Shattering: Ecopoems, edited by Neil Astley at Bloodaxe Books (2007)[3].

One of the chief characteristics of Ecopoetry, as defined by James Engelhardt [4], is that it is connected to the world in a way that implies responsibility. As with other models that explore and assume engagement (Marxism, feminism, etc.), Ecopoetry is "surrounded by questions of ethics" [J Engelhardt, 2007].

The term itself is variously interpreted, and a precise definition does not exist; however, as a means of describing poetry (or poetic projects) that embrace the ecological imperative for personal sensitivity and social change, Ecopoetry has now moved squarely into current use, and is cited freely across the literature by such writers as John Burnside and Mario Petrucci[5].

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