Welcome to earthweal’s open link weekend No. 24.
Thanks all for your strong and deeply felt responses to this week’s environmental justice challenge. Your global witness confirms that humans are as badly out of balance with each other as they are with their Earth. Justice is a righting of those pans, of making measures equal, and your responses served that purpose, weighting what’s important and discarding the rest.
Speaking on the challenge of Northern Irish poets who answered in their words the tensions of their time, Seamus Heaney said redress — the act of restoring balance—was a principal aim and use of poetry:
I have been intent upon treating poetry as an answer given in terms of metre and syntax, of tone and musical trueness; an answer given also by the unpredictability of its inventions and its need to go emotionally and artistically “above the brim” beyond conventional bounds. To redress poetry in this sense is to know and celebrate it for its forcibleness as itself, as the affirming spiritual flame which W.H. Auden wanted, to be shown forth. It is to know and celebrate it not only as a matter of proffered argument and edifying content, but as a matter of angelic potential, a motion of the soul. (The Redress of Poetry, 1990)
Similarly, the work of environmental justice—both for the Earth and the people who have been exploited along with it—is much more pedestrian; it’s voting in elections and serving on committees and fighting for ordinances and regulations and seeing that wrongs are fully confessed and paid for. As members of a society, we can’t be remiss in that work, not ever. But poets have a special contribution to make, that we not lose sight of our Earthly angelic potential. Eden even in the verses such difficult work, but your hard work here shows glints and gleams of possibility in a darkening present. Earthweal’s secret motto is in the singing of the seals on a lonely moonlit island: We, too, are sons and daughters of God ….
The US stock market today (Thursday) is sharply down, with the Dow Jones currently 1,500 points south of the day’s start. For a week is that money market was deaf to the cries for justice, soaring while some global spirit sank deeper and deeper. Now it feels like the Earth’s pan—freighted with COVID and climate change—is redressing obscene wealth in the hardest way imaginable for the takers.
And why not? Melting permafrost in the Siberian Arctic led to the collapse of an oil tank in late May, releasing 150,000 gallons of diesel oil into rivers and flowing toward the Arctic ocean and threatening a nature preserve. An oil well in Assam state in India burst about the same time and has now caught fire, unleashing massive plumes of smoke, causing the evacuation of some 1,600 farming families and threatening a nearby nature preserve. Greenland was hit by a heat wave earlier in the spring, with temps 40 degrees above normal and some 2 billion tons of meltwater at its height; now the heat has centered on the Siberian Arctic, where a few days ago temperatures soared to (86F).
And the American’s president’s oldest son recently hunted endangered giant sheep in Mongolia to add to his trophies. Nothing, right now, can stop him; but one can’t help but see the glint of COVID and the greater looming shadow of human extinction in the dark glassy eyes of the sheep mounted on his wall.
Every poem is a redress.
Share a poem of your own preference, new or old.
Open links taken through Sunday; be sure to visit other linkers and comment.
Sherry will take up the reins next week with a challenge on systemic racism—very topical and sorely in need of our redress.
Have a great weekend—