Just finished reading an extraordinarily moving and thought-provoking anthology of ecopoetry – Earth Shattering, edited by Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books 2007). The first section is devoted to the rivers-and-mountains poetry of Ancient China, while later sections foreground contemporary ecopoems from around the world including those written by 21st century native American poets.

As well as containing poems in which the writer expresses his/her profound sense of connection with nature and the interconnectedness of all lifeforms on earth, the anthology includes many apocalyptic poems on climate change, forest felling, species extinction and planetary catastrophe. I often found myself gasping as I read – not only because the subject-matter is so alarming, but also because of the stunning images and linguistic inventiveness that so many of the poems display. I know I’ll return to this anthology again and again.

2 responses to “Earth Shattering

  1. Yes, I agree that it was heartening to read an anthology containing so many contributions from outside the UK – quite a contrast to other ecopoetry anthologies I’ve read. But yes, I’d like to see a greater representation of non-English language poets too.

  2. Three cheers for Bloodaxe for putting together another not simply mouth-watering but also spine-shaking anthology. They deserve particular praise for their international scope, skilfully side-stepping the trap door of homely national bias… well, almost. Non-English language poets are still a minority in the Bloodaxe anthologies.

    Earth Shattering contains one of my favourite Neruda poems, “Oh tierra, espérame…”, about man’s desire to physically return to the simplicity of the elements after the long voyage through the realm of ambition, institutions and everyday artifice… A poem about “earthly desire” in its first, primordial meaning, not by any means opposed to “divine” or “heavenly”.

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