|by Scot Siegel|
October 14, 2011
When is a poem not a nature poem?
--by Scot Siegel
A reader wrote to me recently with a complaint. Our first! Her note was brief and went like this: “Why do you publish so many poems by [x]? [He/She] is not a nature poet like others in your journal.”
Fair question. Though I had to ask: When is a poem not a nature poem? The writers here come from all walks of life and hail from different parts of the world. Some live in large urban centers, while others are located in rural communities. They write from prairie, city, coast, suburb, desert, military base, and forest, among other locales.
When is a poet a nature poet? Nature is natural only because we say so. Nature becomes a resource when we put it to economic use. But nature resists our efforts to control it; it shapes us as much as we shape it. Our lives reflect our engagement with, or our turning away from, nature: Sun, Oak, Wind, Snow influence our writing even as we are thinking of skyscraper, wheelbarrow, asphalt, eraser. So when is a poet not a nature poet?
I am glad this journal prompts questioning and feedback. If this topic piques your interest, please consider submitting a guest essay when we reopen for submissions in November. We have a new features section called “One-Acts,” which is open to short pieces of literary criticism (e.g., one-poem reviews) and creative non-fiction. Our first One-Act follows this letter.
Thank you for reading, and welcome to the 2011-2012 Fall-Winter Issue of Untitled Country Review.