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In an age of record-breaking superstorms and environmental degradation, What Nature seeks to make sense of how we interact with and are influenced by nature. But the poems in this collection were not written on Walden Pond. They were not written because poetry can save the Earth. They are themselves far cries: urgent calls for rethinking our place on an imperiled planet. Read a selection of online-only poems and essays from the project below, as well as preview from the print volume. You can also order a copy of What Nature here.
Kaveh Akbar, Aubade
Pardon my asking, but do you think I could drink
this and be okay? I am still learning the scents
of poisons, can’t yet smell them in the wild. Sip it
and tell me if you die.
Desirée Alvarez, Diary of the Ghost of a Mestiza
Mis palabras are electrified seashells torching the dirt path
to the village smelling of dinner fire.
They are crisp leaves of poison underfoot.
Rae Armantrout, Preview
As fire rages through the western forest
Jeff Bridges snarls,
“If you want a piece of me,
Come get me.”
Jericho Brown, The Rabbits
They expressed my desire
To mount and be
Mounted as they scurried
Into the darkest parts of what
Camille Dungy, Elegy beginning in the shade of Aunt Mary’s mulberry tree
A week before the woman whose tree
that golden dog was tied to died, I watched
my daughter trust its limbs.
Claire Hero, Fresh Kills
Trash this language
that clutters, that eddies and snags, and whelps
its litter in hoarded places
Brenda Hillman, Among Some Anapests at Civic Center
Poets are often tired
We don’t think the hitting will work
We grow calm among the zeroes
Irène Mathieu, Two Poems
every poem I write is about the same thing:
how ordinary it is to want a long line of sunrises,
bowls of oatmeal with you—in other words
Ted Mathys, From Shale Plays
Two counties away, an Iraq vet with PTSD
braces for the next tremor in a beige La-Z-Boy.
He watches a documentary about the tides and sea.
Mutsuo Takahashi (trans. Jeffrey Angles), Lovers in the Time of Nuclear Power
There is not a single tree to cast a shadow
Nor a single bird to wing through the air
Our field of vision is filled with thronging towers of flame
Invisible, infinitesimal gods that split and fissure continuously
Read the editors’ note to What Nature by Timothy Donnelly, BK Fischer, and Stefania Heim here.
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Though a means of escaping and undermining racial injustice, the practice comes with own set of costs and sacrifices.
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