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Earth Shattering: ecopoems [Paperback]

Neil Astley
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

31 Oct 2007
EARTH SHATTERING lines up a chorus of over two hundred poems addressing environmental destruction. Whether the subject - or target - is the whole earth (global warming, climate change, extinction of species, planetary catastrophe) or landscapes, homelands and cities (polluting rivers and seas, fouling the air, felling trees and forests), there are poems here to alert and alarm anyone willing to read or listen. Other poems celebrate the rapidly vanishing natural world, or lament what has already been lost, or even find a glimmer of hope through efforts to conserve, recycle and rethink. Earth Shattering's words of warning include contributions from many great writers of the past as well as leading contemporary poets from around the world, ranging from Wordsworth, Clare, Hopkins, Hardy, Rilke and Charlotte Mew to Wendell Berry, Helen Dunmore, Joy Harjo, Denise Levertov, W.S. Merwin and Gary Snyder. This is the first anthology to show the full range of ecopoetry, from the wilderness poetry of ancient China to 21st-century native American poetry, with postcolonial and feminist perspectives represented by writers such as Derek Walcott, Ernesto Cardinal, Oodgeroo and Susan Griffin. Ecopoetry goes beyond traditional nature poetry to take on distinctly contemporary issues, recognising the interdependence of all life on earth, the wildness and otherness of nature, and the irresponsibility of our attempts to tame and plunder nature. The poems dramatise the dangers and poverty of a modern world perilously cut off from nature and ruled by technology, self-interest and economic power.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloodaxe Books Ltd (31 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852247746
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852247744
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 395,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Neil Astley is editor of Bloodaxe Books, which he founded in 1978. He has edited nearly a thousand poetry books and published several bestselling anthologies, including Staying Alive (2002), Being Alive (2004) and Being Human (2011) - the three volumes of the Staying Alive Trilogy - as well as Passionfood (2005), Earth Shattering: ecopoems (2007), and two collaborations with Pamela Robertson-Pearce, Soul Food: nourishing poems for starved minds (2007) and the world's first DVD poetry anthology, In Person: 30 Poets (2008), which combines six hours of filmed readings with all the texts read by the poets (plus a history of Bloodaxe). His latest titles are Essential Poems from the Staying Alive Trilogy (2012), Ten Poems About Sheep (Candlestick Press, 2012) and The World Record (with Anna Selby, 2012). He was given a D.Litt by Newcastle University for his pioneering work with Bloodaxe, and won an Eric Gregory Award for his own poetry. He has published two poetry collections, Darwin Survivor and Biting My Tongue, and two novels, The End of My Tether (shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award), and The Sheep Who Changed the World. He lives in the Tarset Valley in Northumberland.

Product Description


Any poetry anthology, in any field, inevitably owes something to those anthologies that have gone before it. But with Earth Shattering, Neil Astley has set out to do something rather different not just moving us well beyond the canon of nature poetry (which a number of other anthologies have also sought to do over the last few years), but by digging much deeper into the complexities of the historical relationship between humankind and the living Earth that sustains us, reflected in a highly contemporaneous and politically relevant way. That will certainly appeal to environmental activists who will already be familiar with many of the poets featured in Earth Shattering. But they will discover a whole lot more than that in this astonishingly eclectic and wide-ranging anthology... The work of each of the poets featured in the anthology is properly contextualised, the significance of their wider work briefly explained, and hugely helpful insights provided into motivation and, occasionally, interpretation. As our world's politicians and corporations orchestrate our headlong rush towards Eco-Armageddon, poetry may seem like a hopeless gesture. But Earth Shattering shows that the power of poetry is in the detail, in the force of each individual poem, in every poem s effect on every reader. And anyone whose resolve is stirred will strengthen the collective call for change. --Jonathan Porritt

Now at last, and rather suddenly, we have two very different anthologies which seem to be working in a new way. They make space for both the work of poetics and the work poetry does. Interestingly, each does this by mapping who is working in a particular area and then arranging that work thematically. Neil Astley's Earth Shattering defines itself as an anthology of ecopoems, and goes on to define sometimes geo-historically, sometimes in intellectual or thematic terms, sometimes through poetics the various forms of ecopoetry. To browse it is to gain an impression of tremendous richness; to read it from cover to cover is to experience the development of a series of moments into a movement: of isolated practices into a new, and potentially global, perspective... Astley's Earth Shattering falls into nine sections, from Rooted in Nature to Natural Disasters , each tracing an aspect of twenty-first century thinking about nature, the planet and our threatened environment and supplemented by contextualising comments: notes on further critical and poetic reading and biographies. It's the approach poemsmake to these topics, rather than their message, which for Astley indicates ecopoetics. There's nothing anachronistic in his tracing what we might crudely term a quality of attention as much in sixth century China as in the rapidly-changing eighteenth and nineteenth century England of Goldsmith, Clare, Wordsworth and Barnes or Anglo-American poetry of the nuclear age. This question of approach is the signature of the anthology itself, as it is of Language for a New Century. It seems to suggest a new seriousness in poetry: and an understanding that poetry can and does engage with the world and lead our thinking about it. A short review can t do any justice to the richnessof content of these important books. And, perhaps, neither should it. As both suggest through their methodology, you need to pay those contents proper attention yourself. Buy them, read them and remember, as that title itself says: these are poems for, not merely from, new and complex times. --Fiona Sampson, Poetry Review

About the Author

NEIL ASTLEY is editor of Bloodaxe Books. He has published several other anthologies, including Staying Alive, Being Alive, Do Not Go Gentle, Passionfood, and (with Pamela Robertson-Pearce) Soul Food and In Person, as well as two eco-novels, The End of My Tether (Scribner), which was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award in 2002, and The Sheep Who Changed the World (Flambard, 2005). He lives in Northumberland.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading for the Whole Planet 10 Sep 2008
Editor Neil Astley, founder of Bloodaxe, has created another rich anthology of poetry in this slightly oversized book "Earth Shattering".

In his own words this book includes poems that address "environmental destruction and ecological balance". From the Wilderness poets of ancient China, through the English Romantics to the contemporary voices of Native American Indians and Australian Aborigines, each poet is introduced and placed in context, along with examples of their work.

The anthology is an excellent introduction to ecopoetry, its issues, concerns and major players from around the world. For the casual reader, interested in poems about the environment and our relationship to it, this book is an absolute must-have. The poems are accessible and powerful commentaries on our current condition and warnings about our possible future.

This is one of those books of poetry that should be required reading for the whole planet.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boundless poetry 15 Dec 2008
A fabulous collection. Inspirational, challenging, compassionate and profound. The poems evoke a variety of natural beauty, wonder at how nature works and terrible thing that have been done to parts of the world.

As well as being deeply nurturing, the poetry in this collection has stirred me to deep questions about my own relation to the natural world, as well as to creative responses. I hope it is widely read and enjoyed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
E11 Eco is Transition Leytonstone's ecopoetry performance group. Back in July 2010, this wonderfully comprehensive anthology formed the basis of the group's maiden performance at the Leytonstone Festival. There are so many poems in it which gain tremendously from being performed with passion, as well as others which are best read silently, to oneself. It is an ongoing source of inspiration for me, and other members of E11 Eco, all of whom now own a copy. The book was also presented to the main prizewinner in our Transition Poetry competition!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astley does it again! 21 Oct 2009
Neil Astley should be applauded for his efforts in bringing together is this collection some of the best poems on the subject. It is very revealing that there has been such concern and so much feeling about man's impact on nature for so many centuries.

Poems from China, Sweden, USA, Poland and most countries in between.

An excellent addition to Staying Alive, Being Alive and Do Not Go Gently.
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