Wednesday, 17 of January of 2018

A Few Words In Favor Of Earth First! Poetry

by Dennis Fritzinger

It’s hard to pin down what makes a good Earth First! poem. Humor’s a plus, but there’s a lot of funny poems that aren’t Earth First! in the least.

Maybe an Earth First! poem has what Chris Manes called “Green Rage” in his book by the same name. Not just “green” and not just “biocentric” (though that’s important and necessary) but with a rage component thrown in. If the poet is royally pissed that helps a lot.

Anger is a useful emotion of course since it propels you to do something. It’s on the red side of the spectrum. On the other side, the blue side, I would put spirituality. A feeling of oneness with Nature, with the Universe. Maybe that’s too woo for you, but it exists and is an equally valid watermark for an Earth First! poem.

Rick Scarce, in his book “Eco-warriors”, basically said Earth First! poetry is something Earth First!ers do in their off time, that is, when they aren’t making mischief for oil companies, coal barons, uranium mines, and timber extractors.

I can see that. The passion of the struggle flows over into the poetry. It becomes words on the printed page.

One might be reasonably confused into thinking Nature poetry and Earth First! poetry are the same thing. They are not. Nature poetry is a different animal–descriptive, but not proscriptive. Dispassionate, not passionate. Nature poetry can invite you to be an ecotourist. Earth First! poetry will invite you to wrenching ‘dozers.