poetry:nature:Visual Arts

Re-spiriting matter/more than human

In the green studies reader, the Ecocritical theorist, Lawrence Buell defines Ecocriticism through what he calls the, “environmental imagination” (Buell, L 2000, p1). According to Buell, It is the ‘environmental imagination’ that attempts to understand potential environmental crisis. It is also the ‘environmental imagination’ that seeks strategies within culture to stop environmental destruction taking place. Buell writes, “Environmental crisis is not merely one of economic resources, public health and political gridlock” (Buell, L 2000, p1).  He is suggesting that approaches to environmental crisis are not limited to the most obvious arenas, that there are other ways that this perceived crisis is being approached. The ‘environmental imagination’ is one such way. He goes on to write, “The success of environmentalist efforts finally hinges not on some highly developed technology or arcane new science, but on a state of mind: on attitudes, feelings, images, narratives” (Buell, L 2000, p1). The ‘environmental imagination’ does this by inspiring change in the way people understand nature. It works to create culture that values the environment with care and responsible connection. Buell suggests a number of approaches that Ecocriticism uses to achieve these aims under the umbrella term of the ‘environmental imagination’. These include art forms which: Seek reconnection with place, a re-visioning of the future to be a place of cultural sensitivity and ecological care, and connection with the experience of other people and non-human nature.

Deer were introduced into the royal national park area early in the English colony for the sport of hunting. Later after the area became national park the deer had survived and thrived. Environmental concerns decided that the animals were damaging the local ecosystem and hunters were given licence to remove the deer from the park.


on the beach

beneath ocean size storm

a herd of deer.

Headlights of a car
coming down

The red spotted Angophoras


the coastal sandstone
and wind.

The deer sleep
a hill of sand
and the campfire

-Little Era Beach



Wind Swept

cockatoo screech
over the dozers
road grader

fire and smoke
Skeleton found by brothers
rested 5000 years
or more
being torn poured with bitumen
still singing people

-Sandon Point

The Australian writer Val Plumwood believes that the nature/culture split can be changed by Ecocritical writing. Plumwood suggests giving voice to the more than human as a way of re-spiriting dead matter. In his poetic essay journey to the heart of stone, Plumwood discusses how writers can challenge, “The experiential framework of dead silent matter entrenched by the sado-disspassionate rationality of scientific reductionism” (Plumwood in Beckett & Gifford 2007, p18). The way to do this suggests Plumwood is to recover an understanding of matter as spirited. He calls for a project that encourages us to, “to think beyond these boundaries, to re-invest with speech, agency and meaning the silenced ones, including the earth and its very stones, cast as the most lifeless members of the earth community” (Plumwood in Beckett & Gifford 2007, p22). The writer can re-spirit matter by work that gives voice to the non-human. By doing this the writer can not only help open up space for the world to talk to human communities, but also they can help the human communities learn how to listen. This is a way of healing a wounded space.


We meet
in fur
our own
and road kill.

clean and eaten.

The forest canopy
under our feet,

covered in mud
covered in earth.

I am smoked
by campfire,

dreads full of seashells,

we are returning
cook lentil stew
in our kitchen:

coming home
sleep -dance our reunion.




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