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Three nature poems
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Contemporary poetry is increasingly a site where the brutality of neoliberal politics is being contested. The three poems below illustrate the ways in which the culture-nature relationship is being rewritten. Nature in these poems is not separate from human experience; it is not a site for romantic contemplation or rural escape. Here, our relationship with the planet is written as emotionally and politically connected to the way we live on a daily basis. These poems are charged with pain, both in their content and their form.

Clare Pollard's powerful 'The Oil' is a prose poem. On the page its thick shape mimics an oil slick. Its images grow in a rhythmic force, reflecting the increasing death grip of the ecological disaster.

In James Goodman's 'Slash Poem' endangered animals are separated from mundane and aspirational consumer items by a slash. Here, the slash functions to reflect lacerating capitalist policies as species are cut in order to make room for the market and its attendant lifestyle choices. The poignancy of the species' vulnerability reaches its climax in the last line as 'the best before date' reveals the planet's own expiration.

'Greening' by Kate Potts imagines a future where we experience 'exaggerated seasonal die-off'. Like the other two poems, the power of 'Greening' comes from its easily locatable everyday descriptions: vitamin C, jogging, bunting. The recurring 'we' draws us into a social connection with the planet where drowsy sex, city parks and stockpiles are inextricably linked to shrinking wheatfields and the crisis of climate change.

In these poems ecological emergency is part of daily life; it's Thomas Tank Engine pencil cases, Youtube videos and lager drinking. These poems are angry but they are also suffused with a heartbreaking bewilderment: 'what do we do now?' they seem to ask.

'The Oil' is published in Changeling (Bloodaxe, 2011). 'Greening' is published in the anthology, Drifting Down the Lane (Moon and Mountain, 2013).


The Oil by Clare Pollard.


Slash poem by James Goodman.


Greening by Kate Potts.

Copyright © 2013 The Author
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Alison Winch. "Three nature poems." Soundings: A journal of politics and culture 55.1 (2013): 108-108. Project MUSE. Web. 15 Dec. 2013. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
Winch, A.(2013). Three nature poems. Soundings: A journal of politics and culture 55(1), 108. Lawrence & Wishart. Retrieved December 15, 2013, from Project MUSE database.
Alison Winch. "Three nature poems." Soundings: A journal of politics and culture 55, no. 1 (2013): 108-108. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed December 15, 2013).
T1 - Three nature poems
A1 - Alison Winch
JF - Soundings: A journal of politics and culture
VL - 55
IS - 1
SP - 108
EP - 108
PY - 2013
PB - Lawrence & Wishart
SN - 1741-0797
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/soundings_a_journal_of_politics_and_culture/v055/55.winch.html
N1 - Issue 55, Winter 2013
ER -


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