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Not sailing to Byzantium: on poetry in a time of crisis

No one sleeps the night through anymore. The wings of endings beat near our faces, drop bones into our dreams….But let us understand that we too will die, each of us; and that in our time of living it matters to reach out and to speak up against the increasing number of state gestures that threaten to become excessive force, surveillance and foreclosures of civil liberties. It matters to ask questions, and to try to conduct serious civil debate about the best routes to sound judgment and care. It matters to take time to listen to what the non-human parts of the planet are saying, as dolphins roll through Venice, and the air clears over Delhi and other industrial centres. It matters to reimagine our entitlements and travel plans, our airplanes and global expansions. What does a sustainable economy look like? Whom should it serve? What would it take to build it, and to engage both human and non-human actors? Why shouldn’t artists and poets study such things? Continue reading Not sailing to Byzantium: on poetry in a time of crisis

“All land is sacred:” Another kind of remembrance

These are the things I want to remember this Remembrance Day: everything that is alive that impresses itself on my senses, not the celebratory stories of European wars and muscular bravery, the pomp and pride that says “Look what we did; this land is our land; war is sacrifice is glory.” What terrible stewards and guests we colonials have been and go on being; even when we think we’re at peace we wage war on other beings, wrecking and murdering, fissuring the earth and all of its resources in the name of conquest, ownership, profit and, ironically, “survival”–a survival that is ever more clearly on its way to choking us all. Our noisy honking drowns out the very voices to which we need to listen. Truly I do not want to study war anymore, neither on this day nor any other; its racket, its glorious tales of the seizure of territories, is not where we most need to hone what Toni Morrison, in Beloved, called our “rememories,” or remembrance of memories right now. Continue reading “All land is sacred:” Another kind of remembrance

When the wind speaks of snow/ In praise of animated observation and observations of animation

Every spring is riddled with odd auguries and peculiar sightings, this one no more than others perhaps, save the stepped up and persistent sense of doom that whistles through the nightly news as the world lurches from crisis to crisis. Continue reading When the wind speaks of snow/ In praise of animated observation and observations of animation