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New Books Spotlight: Nature and Ecology in Poetry

It’s finally starting to feel like Spring! View our latest New Books Spotlight to explore themes of nature, ecology, and the environment through poetry. Be sure to visit the physical display in Howe Library lobby, starting May 1, for even more titles on this topic.  

Appalachian elegy poetry and place by Bell Hooks (eBook)

“Author, activist, feminist, teacher, and artist bell hooks is celebrated as one of the nation's leading intellectuals. Born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, hooks drew her unique pseudonym from the name of her grandmother, an intelligent and strong-willed African American woman who inspired her to stand up against a dominating and repressive society. Her poetry, novels, memoirs, and children's books reflect her Appalachian upbringing and feature her struggles with racially integrated schools and unwelcome authority figures.”

A fine canopy : poems by Alison Swan (eBook)

“Alison Swan's collection of poems, A Fine Canopy, illustrates how the natural world envelops and encloses us with so many beautiful things: crowns of leaves, the ubiquitous blue sky, our luminous moon, and snow. So much snow. An ecopoet whose writing shows her advocacy for natural resources, in this collection Swan calls the reader to witness, appreciate, and sustain this world before it becomes too late. These poems were written out of an impulse to track down wisdom in the open air, outside of the noisy world of cars and commerce. Swan seeks insight on shores and in scraps of woods and fields-especially on four particular peninsulas: Michigan's upper and lower, Florida, and Washington state's Olympic-and also inside motherhood, which might be the wildest place of all. These are poems about the interconnection of all things, and knowing things we cannot see." A journey through seasons with a soundtrack of birdsong, Swan's words are incredibly sensory. The reader is made to feel the weight of muddy jeans, the jolt at the tug of a dog's leash, and to see the bright flash of a cardinal's red plumage. Swan's poems remind us that although we all want to make a mark on our world, the smaller the better: stepping into fresh snow, dashing through forests atop dry leaves, laying wet bodies on warm concrete. These quiet interactions with places are as hopeful as they are harmless. Without necessarily tackling the topics head-on, A Fine Canopy evokes the devastation of climate change and the destruction of natural resources. This book engages deeply with the other-than-human to express and investigate alarm, dismay, anger, admiration, adoration in what feels like the end of the world unless we begin to think outside the box. These poems will carry weight with all readers of poetry, especially those who are interested in ecopoetry and connecting with the world around them."

Extra hidden life, among the days by Brenda Hillman (eBook)

“Brenda Hillman begins her new book in a place of mourning and listening that is deeply transformative. By turns plain and transcendent, these poems meditate on trees, bacteria, wasps, buildings, roots, and stars, ending with twinned elegies and poems of praise that open into spaces that are both magical and archetypal for human imagination: forests and seashores. As always, Hillman's vision is entirely original, her forms inventive and playful. At times the language turns feral as the poet feels her way toward other consciousnesses, into planetary time. This is poetry as a discipline of love and service to the world, whose lines shepherd us through grief and into an ethics of active resistance. Hillman's prior books include Practical Water and Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, which received the Griffin Prize for Poetry. Extra Hidden Life, Among the Days is a visionary and critically important work for our time. A free reader's companion is available online at http: //brendahillman.site.wesleyan.edu.”

Time is a mother by Ocean Vuong (On Loan)

“Ocean Vuong's second collection of poetry looks inward, on the aftershocks of his mother's death, and the struggle - and rewards - of staying present in the world. Time Is a Mother moves outward and onward, in concert with the themes of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, as Vuong continues, through his work, his profound exploration of personal trauma, of what it means to be the product of an American war in America, and how to circle these fragmented tragedies to find not a restoration, but the epicenter of the break.”

Coffin honey by Todd Davis (eBook)

“In Coffin Honey, poet Todd Davis explores the many violences we do to each other and to the other living beings with whom we share the planet.”

Useful junk by Erika Meitner (eBook)

“A master of documentary poetry, Erika Meitner takes up the question of desire and intimacy in her latest poetry collection.”

Black nature : four centuries of African American nature poetry (On Loan)

“Camille T. Dungy has selected 180 poems from 93 poets that provide unique perspectives on American social and literary history to broaden our concept of nature poetry and African American poetics. This collection features major writers such as Phillis Wheatley, Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sterling Brown, Robert Hayden, Wanda Coleman, Natasha Trethewey, and Melvin B. Tolson as well as newer talents such as Douglas Kearney, Major Jackson, and Janice Harrington. Included are poets writing out of slavery, Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, and late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century African American poetic movements.”

Trophic cascade by Camille T. Dungy (eBook)

“Winner of the Colorado Book Award in Poetry (2018) In this fourth book in a series of award-winning survival narratives, Dungy writes positioned at a fulcrum, bringing a new life into the world even as her elders are passing on. In a time of massive environmental degradation, violence and abuse of power, a world in which we all must survive, these poems resonate within and beyond the scope of the human realms, delicately balancing between conflicting loci of attention. Dwelling between vibrancy and its opposite, Dungy writes in a single poem about a mother, a daughter, Smokin' Joe Frazier, brittle stars, giant boulders, and a dead blue whale. These poems are written in the face of despair to hold an impossible love and a commitment to hope. A readers companion will be availabe at wesleyan.edu/wespress/readerscompanions.”

Wet dream by Erin Robinsong (eBook)

“Wet Dream is an expansive book of ecological thinking for living on a wet planet on fire. Erotic and political, vibrating with pleasures, medicines, and unrest, these poems metabolize toxic logics and traverse enmeshed ecologies through the wetness that connects. A pulse of agency to the heart.”

Seeds from a birch tree : writing haiku and the spiritual journey (eBook)

“A brilliant and engaging book on haiku, and on the state of the body and mind required in the million to one shot against producing a good one” —Jim Harrison First published in 1997, Seeds From a Birch Tree introduced readers to the only form of poetry in all of world literature that makes nature into a spiritual path. Its message was simple: Haiku teaches us to return to nature by following the seasons—seventeen syllables at a time. With its mix of poetry and memoir, fallen leaves and birdsong, Seeds From a Birch Tree awakens us to what Bashō called “the life of each thing.” Simple instructions guide us to the possibilities for creativity and joy hidden in plain sight in the natural world around us, giving us hope and resilience in the face of life’s challenges. This Revised & Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition includes the complete text of the original classic, plus dozens of new haiku and an Afterword by the author discussing haiku for the 21st century.”