Spider shiver

Eureka Street | 18 June 2017

Definitions of ecopoetry abound, and it is generally agreed in Australia that ecopoetry is not nature writing - which tries to represent the natural world or celebrate its beauty. Rather ecopoetry takes as its context the contemporary ecological crisis and in various ways seeks language and form to respond, to put human-centeredness into question, and to bring human entanglement with other creatures and in the processes of ecological destruction into focus. There are many ways into writing in this vein and my poems in Eureka Street this week veer more toward what is regarded as a problematic form of nature writing. To my mind they represent one aspect of my poetry that attends to the moment, thus “Shiver” and “Fresh and Salt”, acknowledging a human presence but I hope without dominating and suggesting gently something of human and other-than-human entanglements. “Think back from the future of a bat” is a little different and takes as its subtext, or better supertext, climate change and the future focus it impresses on us. The idea was not so much to speak for a bat, but to think not from a human future as we often do but from the future of another creature, approaching that creature’s being by way of imagination. Most of the poem is unsaid – the question rather is implied concerning what is the future of bats and how that future might speak to our present action.

 

Selected poems

 

Think back from the future of a bat

hear
by grace

beyond your range
as you hang

with leathered
folds

head
drawn

by gravity
brain

to bone
at night

your skin darker
than sky

 

Shiver

to build the bless
of a soul spun
in curled leaf
left since autumn
dry on the stem

(another is unstamped in the box
beneath the latest literary magazine)

my fingers
tentatively test it
for spinners and
for silk that
shivers with prey

 

Fresh and salt

A grey annunciation
of polished sky —

                           its steel
& the bay
               — that intercept

of rain
on adolescent sweat.

 

 

Anne Elvey’s recent poetry publications include Kin and This Flesh That You Know. White on White is forthcoming from Cordite Books. Anne is managing editor of Plumwood Mountain and chief editor with Melbourne Poets Union. She holds honorary appointments at Monash University and University of Divinity where she is a member of the Centre for Research in Religion and Social Policy.