Sunday, August 11, 2013

On lakes, ecopoetry and other matters

"To see a World in a grain of sand
   And a heaven in a Wild Flower
   Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
   And eternity in an hour."
 William Blake

 Who doesn't like to gaze at a blue lake? Who doesn't enjoy to soak the feet in its cool waters on a hot summer day? Don't we all enjoy the softness of the wet sand on our skin?
  Wisconsin lakes are associated with happy memories and experiences.
   Going to the beach, however, has become an unpleasant experience. The water in some places is now pestered by algae, and it stinks. Some areas  of sand look like coffee grounds. I noticed these changes last year when we lived  close to lake Michigan.
  Five years ago the water was clear. A friend of mine also encouraged me to look into the matter  after she expressed some concerns about the lakes in Wisconsin.
   One of the main culprits is pollution from factory farms. Unfortunately, the state is letting the industrial farms ignore water laws that protect the lakes.
    Industrial agriculture in Wisconsin creates as much untreated waste as 69 million people. That is 100 times more than the population of Milwaukee. Much of this animal waste ends up as run off pollution in the lakes, making them unfit for swimming, fishing or other activities. This waste is also associated with the proliferation of algae.
    It  is very important to make sure that the factory farms comply with the laws. You can read more on this here.
   Reading about ecology and the consequences of human interaction with the environment inspired me to write ecopoetry. I learned about this term for the first time when I came across this book at the library. It has a nice variety of nature poems and poems that deal with the interaction of human beings and the environment.
   How do we define ecopoetry? I did a google search to clarify this because I find the concept intriguing and interesting.
    Ecopoetry investigates the relationship between nature and culture, language and perception. Poetry is not limited by the intellect. It goes beyond the intellect and can provide deeper insights because it is intimately related to emotions and perceptions. It explores the connection between human beings and their environment, acknowledging that we cannot exist as separate entities.
    Even though there is no precise definition, the word ecopoetry embraces the ecological imperative for personal sensitivity and social change.
     James Engelhardt's essay "The Language Habitat, An Ecopoetry Manifesto" published at Octopus Magazine states that ecopoetry is about "connection". Poetry is a place to observe, to think, to negotiate between human and non-human concerns, to engage with environmental issues, whether directly or indirectly.
    Ecopoetry has an open-ended ability to ask questions.
 This is a list of literary journals and/or websites that have an interest in ecopoetry and environmental issues. If you would like to add a website or magazine that has an interest in environmental issues, feel free to let me know. Thank you.
Plumwood Mountain
Verse Wisconsin
Octopus Magazine


  1. Hi Julia .. it's not funny what we're doing to our environment, let alone what companies and people are getting away with ..

    I totally agree with you .. and am very concerned - there are lots of plastic pellets in the Lakes too ... and the ocean floors are covered with plastic - the stories are dreadful ...

    Somehow the world needs to take note .. someone with a huge amount of charisma needs to make us all sit up and think ..

    Excellent thoughtful post .. Hilary

    1. Thank you for your support, Hilary. The paradox is that hurting the environment is hurting ourselves. We are deeply interconnected, even though many people believe we are separate entities...

  2. It makes me so sad when I realize what we're doing to out planet. So sad indeed. I truly believe that it's not too late to turn it around...I can only hope and pray

    1. Thank you for your hope and prayers, Keith.
      If you are inspired to take it one step further, check the link and take action.



    Just a few sites off the top of my head that work for clean water in Minnesota as well as support clean water programs in other states.

    1. Thank you. I will check them and add them to the list soon.

  4. Let's hope good poetry can redeem our bad actions.

    1. No, poetry cannot redeem our bad actions, but it can create awareness, it can open up new perspectives, develop emotional connections and inspire people to become active in protecting our planet.

  5. A good book I read a few years ago is "Crimes Against Nature" by Kennedy. Quite an eye opener!

  6. What's sad is I remember studies as far back as the fifties about the harm we were doing to the environment, so you'd think we'd have become much better stewards of the planet by now. Things have improved quite a bit in some areas, but in others, they've gotten worse. The more we become a disposable society, the more trash we generate, and the more plastics pollute our waterways and oceans. It a shame about the lakes. I hope it isn't too late to recover.

    (William Blake is one of my favorite poets.)

    1. I think we have a long way to go, Susan.
      It's good to know you like William Blake's poetry.

  7. A lovely little poem. So simple and yet so powerful. I hope we never run out of poetry.
    Have a great week.

  8. So sad when humans are responsible for the destruction of something as important and beautiful as lakes.

  9. "Wisconsin lakes are associated with happy memories and experiences." That is where we spent our 25th anniversary. Gorgeous, and they should be protected.

    1. Thanks, JJ.
      I hope politicians and people will realize that money cannot be eaten. Hopefully,it won't be too late when they learn this.

  10. Hi Julia,

    In my quest for a clone, my quest has so far been a frustrating search. This has meant it has taken until Saturday evening to get here.

    I understand this and it saddens me. I also remember going to what appeared to be a pristine lake in northern Ontario. Alas, we wanted to go for a swim. Then we saw the sign, that due to acid rain, we'd have to stay out.

    A peaceful rest of the weekend to you, Julia.


  11. Oh, Gary. I'm sorry to read this, but it makes my goals even more meaningful.
    Thank you for your visit, Gary.

  12. Hi Julia. :)

    Thanks for reminding me about this. Environmental protection laws are being flouted all the times. I hope we get sense before it is too late, and change for the greater good.

    Poetry can help to raise the awareness of environmental issues... We are all interconnected, and I hope we realise it soon! Great post.

    1. Thanks for your visit, Susan!
      I agree with you.


I appreciate each and every comment. Thank you.