“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 the collections Once Removed, Approaching Ice, and Interpretive Work. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, Orion and elsewhere. In 2005, she founded Broadsided Press, an innovative, ekphrastic, public-spirited arts project, which she continues to run. Liz teaches creative writing at Brandeis University and in the University of Alaska’s low-residency MFA program, and she works as a naturalist on ships and at home on Cape Cod. www.ebradfield.com