“Nature abhors a vacuum,” Aristotle famously said. When we look at anything, we put ourselves into that gaze. How do we write about our interactions with the non-human world in ways that are full, accurate, ethical, nuanced, and surprising? And how do our social selves – gender, race, geography, culture, education – influence and comment on how we view “nature”? We’ll work toward poems that can embrace all of those complicated understandings. In this month-long course we’ll study how others have written animals, the field of ecopoetry, and find models for our own work. We’ll skirt the treacherous terrain of personification and nudge up to sentimentality (but not enter it), we’ll invent forms sprung from the creatures we study, we’ll make facts sing without bending them and we’ll rage, rage as necessary.
Elizabeth Bradfield is the author of five collections, most recently Toward Antarctica and Theorem, a collaboration with artist Antonia Contro. Cascadia: A Field Guide Through Art, Ecology and Poetry will be published in 2023. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, and her honors include the Audre Lorde Prize and a Stegner Fellowship. Founder of Broadsided Press, Bradfield works as a naturalist/guide and teaches creative writing at Brandeis University. www.ebradfield.com