Issue 5, September 2019

Earth poems

Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Whatever the vexations or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.

Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder, 1965

The contemporary environmental movement was ignited by a woman.

Rachel Carson, c1940. US Fish and Wildlife Service, from Wikipedia.

Rachel Carson, born in 1907 in Pennsylvania, trained and worked as a marine scientist, later becoming a full-time writer. One biographer, Paul Brooks, described her as ‘a realistic, well-trained scientist who possessed the insight and sensitivity of a poet’. Her three books about the sea were described by biographer Linda Lear as ‘drenched with miracle’. The second of the trilogy, The Sea Around Us, was a bestseller and won national awards.

In 1962, Carson published Silent Spring, which documented the far-reaching consequences of the widespread use of organic pesticides. Carson had not wanted to write this book herself, but told long-time friend (and possibly lover) Dorothy Freeman that ‘There would be no future peace for me if I kept silent.’

Ill with cancer before Silent Spring was published, Carson never got to write about the next topic to fascinate her: ‘We live in an age of rising seas,’ she wrote. ‘In our own lifetime we are witnessing a startling alteration of climate.’

Nowadays, when we hear the word ‘environment’ what often comes to mind is the destruction that’s been wrought. But the springboard for Carson’s superb writing was her keen observation of, connection with, and deep love for the natural world.

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe, the less taste we shall have for destruction.

Rachel Carson, John Burroughs Medal
acceptance speech, 1952

As guest editor for issue 5 of Not Very Quiet, ‘Earth poems’, I am looking for poems of observation, connection, and – yes – passion.

Possible questions to consider:

  • In what ways do you/we love and honour the planet whose ecosystem we are a part of?
  • How do you/we celebrate the beauty and magnificence of the natural world (whether in a city or in the wilds), mourn its losses, and/or strive to protect it?
  • Indigenous writers are also invited to consider: how can Indigenous knowledges and perspectives be used to preserve the earth and its life forms?

I’m looking for strong, original, compelling work, from wherever you may be on the planet. No restrictions as to form.

Tricia Dearborn
Guest editor, Issue 5


Issue 5 will be open for submissions 15 June 2019.