Anthropocene Poetry: Place, Environment and Planet

Reddick, Yvonne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7869-7560 (2023) Anthropocene Poetry: Place, Environment and Planet. Literatures, Cultures, and the Environment (1). Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-3-031-39389-1

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The environmental crisis is a major issue in our time. Human beings have altered the climate, oceans, and the very bedrock beneath our feet. Scientists are debating the idea that human-caused damage to the environment has created a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene.

The concept of the Anthropocene has had a wide cultural impact, inspiring films, travelogues, exhibitions, anthologies and special issues of poetry journals. This book argues that the idea of the Anthropocene is shaping not just how poems are written, but how we read them. If environmental poetry was once viewed as liked to place by earlier researchers, Anthropocene Poetry shows how poets are now grappling with environmental issues from the local to the planetary. This book intervenes in debates about culture and science, traditional poetic form and experimental ecopoetics, to show how poets are supporting environmental movements and collaborating with environmental scientists to conceptualise this time of environmental crisis.

From the canonical work of Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney, to award-winning poets Alice Oswald, Pascale Petit, Kei Miller, and Karen McCarthy Woolf, this book explores major literary figures alongside respected contemporary voices and work published in the latest poetry journals. Research on five archives in the UK, the USA and Ireland reveals Ted Hughes’s research on climate change from the 1960s, Seamus Heaney’s use of poems to support conservation causes, and Pascale Petit’s research on the rare rainforest plants that are key to her writing. This diverse array of poets from the UK, Ireland and the Caribbean offers fresh insights on how issues of race, gender and sexuality inflect writers’ responses to the Anthropocene. Unique insights into the production of Magma Poetry’s Anthropocene Issue, written in collaboration with geologists and environmental scientists, show how poets are breaking disciplinary boundaries to create new work on the theme of the Anthropocene.

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