3 Deep Green Poetry Editors
Besides the Earth First! Journal, which has always been a home for deep green poetry, there are three other publications worthy of note that have attracted many fine nature poets and published many fine poems.
They are Wilderness, published by the Wilderness Society; OnEarth (formerly Amicus Journal), published by the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council); and Orion, published by the Orion Society.
Brian Swann, poetry editor for OnEarth/Amicus, has been on the job the longest, with John Daniel, poetry editor for Wilderness, close behind. Orion’s poetry editor, Hannah Fries, came to Orion as an intern in 2005.
Not only are these three editors of periodicals, two of them are also editors of anthologies, which are better for sticking in a backpack or pocket of a field jacket. These collections are words to share at campfires, words to read to the trees, words to declaim at the beach.
Out of all of them, Brian Swann may be the best of the bunch, though it’s a close call. Besides editing poetry for an incredibly long time (3 or 4 decades) he’s produced two books, the more recent being Poetry Comes Up Where It Can, which is a line in a poem by Homero Aridjis. It also pretty much describes the healthy state of so much fresh pure green poetry as works of living ecology and hydrology currently rising:
among boulders charging madly upstream;
to feel its handle yank at and flutter half free
of your fingers; to catch that dim chime
stainless steel barely gives off, nicking rock
underwater; to wet shirt-cotton with dribbles
so icy the frontal lobes ache like migraine
after each swallow; then, as that fades,
to dip again to the bottom of the world’s well
which around here is snowpack so near to the sky
that’s pretty much what it tastes like,
you could borrow this cup.
(by Reg Saner, from anthology:Poetry Comes Up Where It Can)
And then in John Daniel’s book, Wild Song, there is equal beauty and wonder — it includes many of the same poets as Swann’s collection. Especially when it comes to throwing out a hook in the first few lines that drags the reader in. For example, the beginning of “Camping in the Cascades” by Joseph Powell:
Hungry for bootprints, shades of differences,
we’ve come to think like the earth.
Or the opening lines of “Chainsaw” by Roger Jones:
The way it pops and razzes
and grumbles under its breath,
In his preface Daniel’s writes: “Early in 1988 I wrote Tom Watkins, editor of Wilderness, urging him to publish poetry in the magazine. To my surprise, and perhaps to his, Tom wrote back, ‘Why don’t we give it a shot? You’re the poetry editor.’”
As editors of green poetry we’ve an obligation to not give up on unearthing (cultivating) a green poem in all its many varieties, whenever and wherever it arises. The poems these particular editors choose are the healing edge of Green Poetry!
All us editors recommend you try going through these publications and landing on any page (and any poem), it’s a real treat! Not just in “this is a great poem” sense, but “this is a great green poem” sense. The color of the poem makes a difference, after all.
And some may ask why does any of this matter?
First, I’m grateful that other publications, have devoted ink and electrons to the true task of the warriorpoet. Second, I’m grateful that major organizations are discriminating enough to find green poetry editors. And finally, third, the green poet’s/poem’s task itself: bring the non-human into the equation.
That task is what seems both ecologically correct and humble. The human animal is perhaps most human when it is most humble, or at least I think so.
Finally, I’ve come to the conclusion that the necessity that editors of green poetry are most concerned with is the necessity of quashing the human ego long enough so the rest of our living earth can speak and be spoken for. And this green poetic voice we curate, it’s still young.
May this young bear cub we call green poetry grow old and wise and one day roar like a giant mama bear protecting her young.
Chief cook and bottle washer
Warrior Poets Society
Date: June 17, 2013
Categories: Inspiring Voices