Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"Seeking a Center for Ecopoetics" by John Linstrom

During this summer season, I remind readers of the Spring/Summer 2011 issue (Volume XII, Number 2) of Valparaiso Poetry Review, which includes a lengthy essay on ecopoetics by John Linstrom:


—John Linstrom

A discomforting contradiction quickly crops up in the efforts of any nature writer who begins to consider the difference between nature and culture—it seems that writing, as a cultural act, could very easily be dismissed as superfluous to natural life. Particularly with the evolution of ecocriticism as a major field of literary study, we are reminded that no experience, no subject, no external object or pure thought, can be communicated with true immediacy. Language is, at best, mediating. So, if an ecocentric sense of primacy is granted to nonhuman nature or even to the sensually mediated experience of it, it would be best for us all to give up books for long walks in the woods. We could possibly attempt to give up on Jean Baudrillard’s non-referential map, that reality marked by detached signifiers, and get back to the territory, to the reality signified, but not through such an irrepressibly cultural and sign-dependent institution as language.[1]

Similarly, the concept of nature as a focalizing device could very easily be dismissed as superfluous to human culture. No amount of natural study will bring humans into a position of true nonhuman understanding—as a linguistic species we are intrinsically separate from an unspeaking and untranslatable universe. Why bother to attempt communication with this utterly nonhuman otherness when there is work to do and life to live in society? Recent scholarship provocatively asserts that “nature” is an entirely human construction anyway, so in that sense to attempt to place primacy of value in “nature” would seem to be simply another angle from which to approach a humanistic ethics.[2] Anthropocentrism rules—perhaps it must.

Ecocentrism as a concept has been emerging within ecocritical literary discourse as a confusing amalgam of conflicting values. Anthropocentrism seems straight-forward enough from a humanistic approach, but what kind of center is “eco"? Who are the ecopoets, if it is possible to distinguish them, and were they possible before the evolution of contemporary environmentalist dialogue? Most pressingly for current writers, where does the human fit within ecocentrism, if at all? Should the ecopoet observe an aesthetic of self-effacement, erasing her “brushstrokes” to highlight the landscape beyond the page and thus assert nonhuman primacy, or an aesthetic of unchecked artistic manipulation, admitting the inherent violence of representation against the thing represented and reveling in that admittance, celebrating the mess of paint in spite of its inadequacy? There is value in both of these perspectives, but, if they cannot be reconciled, the ecopoet is left displaced and paralyzed....

Visitors are invited to read the rest of the essay.

No comments: