April 20, 2013

Review #20: The Ecopoetry Anthology (National Poetry Month)

The Ecopoetry Anthology is a massive 672-page collection of poems about the environment and nature.  

Like any anthology, there are some excellent poems, some pretty good poems, some that are so-so, and some that you can't believe have been published.  

Some poems are by well-known authors, like Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, and e.e. cummings.  Most are by poets I've never heard of.  Some poems are less than a page long, others are like novellas.  The book is broken up into 2 sections- historical poems and contemporary.

First, I will start off with some of the poems that I thought were amazing and I was pleased to discover their existences.

One such poem is A Grave by Marianne Moore.  Here is what struck me:

"Man looking into the sea,taking the view from those who have as much right to it as you have to it yourself.it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing,but you cannot stand in the middle of this; the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave."

Another poem I enjoyed was Hummingbird by Patrick Lawler:

"Never certain
whether I'm the 

or the hunger,

the burrowing
or the blossom.

This alchemist's breath.
This living graphic.

This vibrating text.

A spurt. A spark. A lure.

A flag
for a fancy

In Europe
they ended up
in glass boxes.

The head
like a bishop's ring.

Fractal. Flint.
Metallic flicking.

The tiny
meteor of the heart

it sparkles.

It glistens
like sex. 

A transvestite's
rainbow brain.

a jewel.

In the 19th century

were murdered
so they could 
be hats.

A sapphire soul.
A magician's
last breath.

the body.


Ruby bliss.

about to be

Wings blinking.

An inch of bridge
spectacle and id.

you become
what you desire.

A piece 
of ecclesiastical

A splash of purple
in an iridescent dive.

A liquid medal
for a biplane pilot.

A flying piece of sugar
for a fallen acrobat.

All mouth:
a semaphore of hunger
tapped out with the tongue.

Everything is
ready to be devoured.

A tiny aurora borealis
before a swollen blossom.

This courtship
between tongue
and nectar.

A gemologist
of indulgence.

The dipping into petals--

soft inner spaces.

nectar cup.

The hummingbird
the flower."

A short list of other poems I enjoyed by new-to-me poets:

21st Century Lecture by Ralph Black
Genocide, Again by Kwame Dawes
Then by Patricia Fargnoli

Now for the bad:

Here is an excerpt from one that I couldn't even get through called Unit of Measure by Sandra Beasley:
"All can be measured by the standard of the capybara.Everything is lesser than or greater than the capybara.Everything is taller or shorter than the capybara.Everything is mistaken for a Brazillian dance crazemore or less frequently than the capybara.Everything eats greater or fewer watermelons than the capybara.Everything eats more or less bark.Everyone barks more or less than the capybara,who also whistles, clicks, grunts, and emits what is known ashis alarm squeal."

And it just gets worse from there.

Then there is Alison Hawthorne Deming's Specimans Collected at Clear Cut, which is written in a numbered list.  I've never seen this type of poem.  Ann Fisher-Wirth's from Dream Cabinet is basically the same.  Do these even count as poems?

There are more that are just basically paragraphs, no poetic structure or lyrical prose whatsoever.

Another poem called Little Green Things by Tim Earley is basically a list of things that are green.  Kill me now.

Overall, this book was hit and miss.  I don't recommend it and I don't not recommend it.  It really depends on how much you enjoy poetry and how willing you are to weed through the bad to get to the good.  


  1. I have to say that I love seeing a poetry book reviewed! :) I wish I could say that I review poetry, but I just don't. Poetry is so great though. I do find the term "eco" interesting. Wasn't that what the Romantics called pastoral at one time? I'd be curious to see what classical pieces were included to see if that's the case.

    1. There were several classical included but I have no idea about Romantics and the "eco" part. :/

  2. I'm pretty unwilling to weed through the bad. lol Did that one about things that are green being with, "It's not easy being green"?


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