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372 Western American Literature The twenty contributors to The Biophilia Hypothesis think they might know the answer: We can’t help ourselves; these things are in our genes and basic to the human condition. Edited by Stephen R. Kellert, Yale professor of environmental studies, and Edward O. Wilson, Harvard professor of science and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, The Biophilia Hypothesis expands on Wilson’s de­ cade-old premise that humans possess an instinctive, genetic bond with na­ ture—thus, biophilia (Biophilia, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984). The eighteen essays in The Biophilia Hypothesis explore biophilia, and biophobia, in voices ranging from conversational to painfully academic. Among the most satisfying of the lot is “The Loss of Floral and Faunal Story: The Extinction of Experience,”by Gary Paul Nabhan and Sara St. Antoine, wherein the authors equate the diminishment of Sonoran Desert biodiversity—via live­ stock overgrazing and other unnatural influences—to the loss of both the traditional affinitywith nature and the oral tradition (storytelling) that invested that affinity in countless generations of southern Arizona Indians. Thus, say Nabhan and St. Antoine, environmental impoverishment leads to cultural and even personal impoverishment. Another outstanding contribution is “Searching for the Lost Arrow: Physi­ cal and Spiritual Ecology in the Hunter’sWorld,”in which Alaskan anthropolo­ gist Richard Nelson recapitulates several of the primitive worldviews he so poignantly described in his 1991 John Burroughs Medal-winning The Island Within (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1989). And so on. In an age when overpopulation, institutionalized materialism and conse­ quent environmental degradation threaten our peace, happiness and, ulti­ mately, very survival, The Biophilia Hypothesis presents food for meaningful rumination.© by DAVID PETERSEN 1994 SanJuan Mountains, Colorado TheseAre My Rivers: New and SelectedPoems 1955-1993. By Lawrence Ferlinghetti. (New York: New Directions, 1993. 308 pages, $22.95.) Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet laureate of San Francisco, America’s best­ selling poet of the twentieth century, shows us in his latest work that he still has the joyful lyrical voice that made him famous in the 1950s. Now with These Are My Rivers we have the completely up-to-date Ferlinghetti still speaking out against academic poetry just as he did when the Beat Movement began and showing us how in the 1990s the poets that matter have “deconstructed them­ selves on NEA grants/and joined linguistics departments.” As for the others, they have taken “to the hills chanting sawmill haikus/or opened up unisex hair Reviews 373 parlors in Des Moines.”Yes, Ferlinghetti, always the poet ofthe topical now, still sees clearly the 1990s, at one point condemning Attorney General Reno for the 1993 destruction of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. As he approaches seventy-six, it is appropriate for Ferlinghetti to issue a retrospective volume selecting representative poems from the past forty years. As with all selected poetry volumes, though, the representation is too general. Yes, we read back through familiar selections from Pictures ofthe Gone World, A Coney Island of the Mind, and Startingfrom San Francisco and again it becomes clear why these poems changed a generation—the power of the irregular lines, the not-so-delicate wit (always at the expense ofthe middle-class establishment), the topical references to popular culture and politics (so utterly unpoetic we thought—withjoy). But naturally a volume like this omits many poems that need to be pre­ served such as “Dada Would Have Liked a Day Like This”and “Christ Climbed Down.”And surely a poem of such historical importance as “Tentative Descrip­ tion ofa Dinner to Promote the Impeachment of President Eisenhower”should be retained. Its Swiftian satire, while dated, shook a generation from its 1950s political apathy. For many of us in the Baby Boom generation Lawrence Ferlinghetti—with some help from the other Beat poets—redefined poetry, took poetry out of the classroom and gave it back to the people. These Are My Rivers continues to give poetry back to the people if in the 1990s we can accept it. PAUL VARNER Oklahoma State University— Oklahoma City The ProperEdge ofthe Sky: The High Plateau Country of Utah. By Edward A. Geary. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1992. 288...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 372-373
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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