Friday, May 6, 2011

VidPo (2.0) - Ecopoetry, Beetles, and String


I had the honor a couple of days ago to have my poem "Beetle on a String" featured as a video on "Why Poetry Matters," a new YouTube channel.


This channel, an excellent video-poetry resource, was founded by Marty McGoey to bring attention to Ecopoetry. If you don't know what that is, Marty has an excellent video intro. He begins, "Ecopoetry is a type of poetry that has an emphasis on ecology and often has an ecological message."

I'm not really much of a nature poet, having been raised in the big city. Well, San Francisco's a pretty small city (only 50 square miles), but you know what I mean. Nature to me, when I was a kid, was confined to Golden Gate Park; the hills I knew were mostly covered in concrete and asphalt. But then Marty goes on to say that ecopoetry "is not just poetry about nature, but pushes through tradition showing nature as a neutral force, forever non-human."

Is "Beetle on a String" an ecopoem? I wondered. I've always thought of this poem as an apology to the insect world for my sins, in a way for all our transgressions as a species, against our six-legged counterparts who, after all, outnumber us humans. Marty says, ecopoetry "states that humans are accountable for the non-human world"; I might revise that to read that we "are accountable TO the non-human world." At least that's what was on my mind when I was writing that poem.

So I asked Marty, via facebook, along with some of his ecopoetry colleagues if "Beetle on a String" is indeed an ecopoem. They assure me it was, and that's how the poem ended up on Marty's channel. Thanks for the honor, Marty!

The notion of ecopoetry is still something fairly new to me. I'm working out how it might connect to my work. I'm thinking specifically of two other poems . . . my regular blog readers will remember I've been slowly putting my first book Dragonfly onto the blog and those two poems, "Miraculous Dragonfly" and "Mosquito/Manila Haiku," appear here as pages 6 and 7. Are these ecopoems? Marty does go on to say, in his introductory video, that "Ecopoetry connects us with the natural world and our animal counterparts." Fascinating.

Marty later asserts that ecopoetry "uses totems to make connections [and] encourages people to find their own totems and symbols in the natural world. In many ways, the dragonfly has been a kind of totem for me, as the poem "Miraculous Dragonfly" suggests. I think.

I'd love to hear from you, faithful blog readers, if you think those other two poems are ecopoems. And maybe also "Hunting Sponge," a poem that strangely or not-so-strangely has nothing to do with insects. Would you please write a comment below whether or not you think these poems are ecopoems?

Also, please visit Marty McGoey's YouTube channel. He's an excellent reader of poems, with a strong podcast voice. And the poems Marty's chosen to feature are all wonderful entrees into ecopoetry.

Okay. Comment below, please (on anything, really, not just ecopoetry). Watch some of Marty's videos. And have a great weekend. I'm looking forward to our graduation ceremony tomorrow at the University of Northern Iowa, where our speaker will be Michelle Obama. Yes.


Note added later on 6 May 2011: Live video of tomorrow's commencement speech by Michelle Obama will be streamed online at http://live.uni.edu/2011/05/07/spring-2011-commencement-special-guest-commencement-speaker-first-lady-michelle-obama, starting at 11:00 A.M. (CDT).


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