Poetry for the Environment - Dialogue Between the Body and the Soul

airplane poetry photo

Image from RSA

There have been numerous popular films and books about the environment and now two poets are sharing their views. One lives in England and the other in Australia, and both decided to stop flying internationally for environmental reasons.

Instead of meeting personally, Melanie Challenger and John Kinsella will be publishing an exchange of poems on the subject of their thoughts on air travel. The idea is that "great poetry can take us to new places without any increase in carbon footprints." The result is a multi-part work, Dialogue between the body and the soul. The first, by Kinsella, is up. Get inspired after the fold.

sky by night photo

Image by allposters.co.uk

The first poem, Opening, by John Kinsella. Kinsella is the author of more than forty books of poetry, prose, and criticism. He is Adjunct Professor to Edith Cowan University, Western Australia, where he is a Principal of the Landscape and Language Centre, and a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia.


The walk between towns is three days
at a fair pace — the legs scissor, arms
counterweight. In the heat
I fashion a hat out of dust
and the brim wavers, mirage
drawn out of stone and scrub.


The high life makes strife
with the quickening map —
I lapse into lakes, mountains, plains,
all are a glimpse ravelled into one
impression as a bird's eye
warms in its socket.


I see you pass over and hear you
later — your essence a pair
of streamers dissipating;
does sleep sleep up there?
Do dreams dream of themselves
at the mercy of meal breaks?


Your feet don't touch
the ground but you think
about a new pair of boots — broken
in, comfortable. The ageing of the slow,
of the too closely observed,
the insects in your sleep.


Time changes only as you change
and down here even flesh is more constant —
but each step is your mile,
and each mile is a mile less
for the towns I move between
and all I see, hear, touch and taste.


But by your own admission
I am the essence, and I must
get where I am going fast — eternal
I need to keep busy, keep getting the job done.
I am pressure. I am air
breathed over and over.

RSA Arts & Ecology

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