Ecopoetics Along Shorelines


Field Writing Samples (100’s)

June 5, 2018

“I’m eight years old again and I find a little eel in a tidepool on the beach of Orcas Island – I name it Eely and my parents let me keep it in a bowl outside our house. It’s hot out and I tell my grandpa to change the water while I’m gone. Eely dies. I cry. I tell my grandpa, “It’s all your fault!” My parents console me. We put Eely in the water and they swear that they saw him swim away. How cruel am I to capture a living thing and then mourn the loss of its life.”

“I try to remember what it felt like that day but it feels so distant now. Here, with aluminum beneath my fingers, I wonder how I had never noticed it before. Iterations – backspace, right-click, synonyms, backspace. Four years under this roof and now the two items in my bag are a laptop and a cell phone. I want so badly for the sound of keys to be replaced by the crashing of waves; for the carpet to turn to sand; for the brick walls to open up and let in a crisp, salty breeze. I switch to pen and paper.”

“I look down and the only monster I see is me. “All eukaryotic life is monstrous” – is it? Maybe. I ask you but you don’t answer. I kick my feet over the concrete edge and let them dangle below me. A woman stares back at me – distorted by your vibrant ebb and flow and tinted by oil collecting on your surface. Below your surface I see bottles, tires, cement blocks, a bike. Unabashed, you mirror and move with an energy like I’ve never seen. After all I’ve done to hurt you, you still dance at the sight of my face.”

“If you were an animal, you’d be this one – wide-eyed, brilliant, capable of brightening anyone’s day with a single wave. You’d be this one… or maybe the one in the aquarium that we’d visit every year. You remember the one, right? You nod and I wonder if you’re lying.  We’d visit her while grandpa was at work. I’d say “octopus moving” and you’d laugh with the most angelic laugh I’ve ever heard. If you were an animal, you’d be this one – witty and curious, intelligent and fascinating – dare I go on lest I risk adopting this octopus as my grandmother?”

“I come to this place in search of a remedy, or maybe just a chapel. I want to lay here until the tide rises and the healing rhythm of the Sound washes over me, let Her blanket drown me and with my body, my sins. If I bathe in Her holy water, will the Sound absolve me?

I want to plunge into the clear, cold bay, say three Hail Mary’s, plug my nose, and run off of the dock, descending past walls of technicolor life, waving outstretched arms to me as I pass, as if to say, you are forgiven.”

May 30, 2018

If “I” should always be under pressure, it is the pressure of being part of something much greater, of being under the supernatural weight of a wholly undetermined future. Below us is not only a collection of carbon and time and pressure, but also the narrative of how that past is told. Unless we are miners digging into the earth we have no access to the past, but we do as poets or writers mining and augmenting the narrative of “our” past. WE are under the pressure of narrative, I must act as witness and messenger of my own narrative.

May 30, 2018

Pressure is a physical and mental force. Nature is a living, driving pressure that shapes many individuals “I” part of its larger collective whole. How one individual reacts will directly (or eventually indirectly) affect the other(s) within their respective roles. The present “I” is a result of the past “I” and an influencer of the future “I” bringing out an individual’s growth, becoming the best version of itself it can be. An individual’s evolution constitutes to its adaptive potential and ability to react to change, supporting the idea of community resiliency throughout the book and the entirety of our class.




May 29, 2018

“The hybrid I”: a more natural convergence of ‘I’s to form a ‘we’, instead of a ‘genial synthesis of diversely authoritative approaches’?

Throughout Redstart, ‘I’ is sometimes an unreliable narrator. In “I went out this evening with my daughter, who has a pressure in her head and needed the quiet of the river” (59), I is genuine, though still in conflict: “I said, it’s about the light, Katherine…” implying disagreement in perspective. Other times, removal of ‘I’ empowers the reader to see differently… through “eyes of the world”?

Can this poetry ‘provide incommensurable forms of insight’ because ‘I’ can be imagined?

May 29, 2018
Julie Ann

As I read the poems, they often seemed to be continuations from one to the next. Each author picking up the thread of the previous writing and carrying forward, sometimes in a similar, often in a different direction. The email exchanges at the end of the book made me think about them as more of a call and response dialogue. The I is under pressure then because it is beholden to what comes not only before it, but also after it. In the back of the author’s mind, is there a thought toward the future and what will happen next?

May 29, 2018

In Redstart, I noticed the “I” being put under the pressure in Kinsella’s “A Note on Ecopoetics” (pg 37). He notes that poets and poetry work within an ecology, and that ecology, as opposed to environment, is, by nature, communal. He refers to his collaboration with Gander, and as a poet in general, as “a way of challenging the security of self-affirmation.” Often in writing it is easy to be self-important, but he suggests that when working in this sort of collaboration the endgame is not self-oriented, but rather a potentially redemptive contribution to an (infinitely?) larger body of work.

May 29, 2018
Alex in Mexico

To put pressure on the ‘I’ is to put pressure on this recurring theme of selfishness. As I read Redstart, I’m given this sense of smoothness to the language but pressure registering as guilt for my nature, my selfishness. Short phrases, lots of commas, high density. Its appears strategically composed to put pressure into the mind, to scare up a sense of urgency. Page 49, short phrases no more than three words. Pressuring through description, ‘intensifies,’ ‘blazing,’ ‘blinding,’ ‘irreproducible.’ The author clearly had an intention with linguistic choice, put pressure through the action of reading, through the medium of structure.

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