ABSTRACT

In the face of global ecological decline, the main obstacles to action continue to be collective inertia, inattention and disconnection. Yet words chosen with art can electrify our senses and ignite the imagination needed to envision and create a different world. It is not a coincidence if we turn to poetry in the hardest times: poetry responds to a deep need to reconnect, to mend and heal broken relationships, including with the planet. Poetry carries deep ecological relevance. The aim of this chapter is to show that poetry is uniquely positioned to pierce through societal inertia because poetry can enhance ecological awareness, that is, awareness of our deep entanglements with the planet. Ecological awareness is the foundational, necessary condition for ecological action.

The chapter draws on recent debates on the concept of ecological awareness in environmental humanities (including contributions by anthropologist Tim Ingold and philosopher Tim Morton) and on the efficacy of poetic structures (such as metaphors and synesthesia) in order to advance the argument that poetry is ecology. Methodologically, the chapter proposes a ‘poetic methodology’ based on full participation, attention and affective involvement of the reader/writer. These theoretical and methodological perspectives are grounded in the work of Italian (Friulian) poet Pierluigi Cappello. The analysis of extracts from Cappello’s poems traces a path of ecological awareness that originates in the reawakening of the senses, and through decentring of the human being, grounding, and accepting responsibility for our actions, can teach ways ahead towards ecological healing and hope.