"Nature vs. Culture" (detail), installation by Stephanie Powell. Warringah, NSW.
“we need to go into this future armed with nature as our strongest ally”
— Inger Andersen
in my cultural geography class,
i send students outside to make two lists
everything that is natural
and everything that is not
flower buds, bugs, trees, people,
mountains, clouds, soil,
they write on the natural side
of the board when they are inside
cell phones, buildings, cars
they write on the other
people are natural, they say (mostly)
while things made by people are not
that there is an outside?
that there is an inside?
discomfort with the battle metaphor:
to take up, with open
what is human nature
to be an ally of that which we are
what we know--
Yet have no art to say
So impotent Our Wisdom
the pandemic rages on and the skies are clear over some city
you have left the trail
please follow the signs
laid bare structural inequalities
food, water, shelter, air
(maybe) things can change
on a dime
Eric Magrane is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography at New Mexico State University. He is editor, with Linda Russo, Sarah de Leeuw, and Craig Santos Perez, of Geopoetics in Practice (Routledge 2020). You can find more of his recent work on climate change and poetry in Carbon Copy, Literary Geographies, Dialogues in Human Geography, The End of the World Project, or Big Energy Poets: Ecopoetry Thinks Climate Change (BlazeVOX books).
I'm a writer & teacher in Lawrence, Kansas who actually believes the scientists. I wrote a book of poems called Of Some Sky that seems to have something to do with all this.