Monday, April 1, 2013

Writing, naturally

photo of trees budding out in early Spring
© harrington
Hi! Thanks for stopping by. The Canada geese are definitely back. (If they were Canadian geese, they would have come south from Canada. The ones in this neighborhood returned north from whatever southern waters they were visiting, so we know they're not Canadian geese, just Canada geese.) Robins have returned also. Local trees are nowhere near as far along as those pictured above from about a year ago. I've had enough of Mother Nature's, so there won't be any April (tom)foolery in My Minnesota today, especially since this is the start of National poetry month. I thought we might learn something if we set up some "nature poetics" (this is primarily a nature blog) and then looked at a variety of poems to see if we thought they fit the poetics or not. Let's start with:
Some Points for a “New Nature Poetics
by Gary Snyder

•    That it be literate--that is, nature literate. Know who’s who and what’s what in the ecosystem, even if this aspect is barely visible in the writing.
•    That it be grounded in a place--thus, place literate: informed about local specifics on both ecological-biotic and sociopolitical levels. And informed about history (social history and environmental history, even is this is not obvious in the poem.
•    That it use Coyote as a totem--the Trickster, always open, shape shifting, providing the eye of other beings going in and out of death, laughing with the dark side.
•    That it use Bear as a totem--omnivorous, fearless, without anxiety, steady, generous, contemplative, and relentlessly protective of the wild.
•    That it find further totems--this is the world of nature, myth, archetype, and ecosystem that we must each investigate. “Depth ecology.”
•    That it fear not science. Go beyond nature literacy into the emergent new territories in science: landscape ecology, conservation biology, charming chaos, complicated systems theory.
•    That it go further with science--into awareness of the problematic and contingent aspects of so-called objectivity.
•    That it study mind and language--language as wild system, mind as wild habitat, world as a “making” (poem), poem as a creature of the wild mind.
•    That it be crafty and get the work done.
These points can be found in Snyder's essay Unnatural Writing, which is in the book "A Place in Space." By the way, although Synder is most associated with the west coast and the far east, he has been to Minnesota and, thus, is fair game for inclusion in My Minnesota. Here's a very good biographical summary by Jim Lefensty. It also contains some of Snyder's poetry, but for us at the start of National Poetry Month, I'd prefer to share this example from "No Nature":
HOW POETRY COMES TO ME
It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light
If that doesn't say BWCA to you, I'm not sure what would. Now, think about how it stacks up against the points above. Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoy the rest of our explorations into Minnesota's poets and poetry this month. Rants, raves and reflections will continue to be served daily.