What does poetry have to do with ecology? From nature poetry to the poetries of the self-conscious Anthropocene
What does poetry have to do with ecology? One way to answer this question is to point out that more-than-human nature has always been one of the central topics for the poetic imagination. Beginning with the Hebrew „Song of Songs“, or classical pastoral poetry, non-human nature has been depicted as a backdrop of human affairs, and a power inspiring awe and admiration. However, the current ecological crisis has changed the way in which we perceive non-human nature and our place within it. In the epoch that many thinkers refer to as the Anthropocene, is no longer possible to convincingly represent nature as eternal or unchanging, or as passive, merely a decoration for human history.
Contemporary poets are therefore attempting to rethink our relationship with more-than-human worlds, asking questions about non-human agency, the creativity of plants, animals and evolutionary processes, questioning anthropocentrism, attempting to listen to non-human beings or address such issues as climate, plastic pollution or environmental justice. The task of my talk is to demonstrate some of the strategies adopted by the poets of the „self-conscious Anthropocene“ (Lynn Keller’s formulation) to articulate the most urgent issues of our times.