My last post, “How environmental themes entered my writing” dealt with fiction. I didn't mention my poetry writing and the “how” often happening from walking or hiking. Environment and poetry seem to have such an obvious relationship that I left it out.
Although I tried many sports, swimming and walking were my regular activities in adult life. Hiking was the term we used then but I found, living in the Twin Cities, that city hiking was stimulating too. Walking around the lakes there was a social exercise. I also liked walking to Lake Calhoun and back, clocking about four miles. In Duluth, the shoreline of a great lake, creeks and woods in the parks, and stands of trees in neighborhoods are in the walking panorama. Working with used books, I've converted to early morning walks when garage or estate sales are within my range.
I've liked seeing gardens and architectures, lawns that were allowed to go wild, the crow supervising the gathering squirrel, the expressiveness of trees, finding the woodpecker making the noise, raccoons, and does with fawns.
Once I began writing regularly, I found that walking both relieved tension and kept the creative breezes flowing. Many famous writers regularly took a morning or an afternoon walk.
These walks, though, made me more of a poet, not just an inspired poet but a poet who feels thematic and then writes more regularly. Walking a few miles opens up the awareness and associations. I tended to see my fiction from an inner view like film. Poetry was that moment a photographer catches except that the poet has their inner awareness and associations, those creative breezes that pick up images like seeds. Writing that draws a parallel, a metaphor. Nature becomes a cohesion of forces, scientific included but not the prevailing attitude.
When the digital camera came along, I often simply stopped, took a picture, and put it on Facebook. It was a moment that seemed unusual and revealing. But writing a poem usually happened within a system, from the soil of associations. The challenge was to find out whether you made sense to a reader while giving a personal perspective.
Being out-of-doors and becoming a part of that causes a pensive mind to wonder about systems. With poetry, I liked to find parallels for human life. It was a coincidence that I was moving, my apartment emptying except for a couch, when a swarm of monarch butterflies decided to rest in the trees outside the window. It seemed like magic but then it made me more enthusiastic about writing poetry.
Ever since Wordsworth in western culture, after poets began writing on a subject rather than relating a story worthy of a novel or play, nature for the sake of nature came to the forefront. Poets have looked at the environment in a different way, and usually as a system that affects and even directs man.
I've seen in recent journals some superb poetry that, unfortunately, mourns the present situation with environment while it celebrates the naturalistic world. Many of my poems led to an environmental perspective and were published in literary journals, listed on my website. In recent years, I was proud to have poems published in Review Americana, Cider Press Review, ArLiJo,Wilderness House Literary Review, and The Adirondack Review. Recently, a poem of mine was included in New Poetry from the Midwest 2018, published by New American Press.
Literary journals can focus on regions or what gives a sense of place, the land we live on. I continue to explore them at New Pages.