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Focusing on the work of A.R. Ammons, Wendell Berry, W.S. Merwin, and Gary Snyder, author Leonard Scigaj shows that just as a sustainable society does not depreciate its resource base, so a sustainable poetry does not restrict interest to language. Over the past thirty years many poets have shown an increasing sensitivity to ecological thinking. But critics trained in poststructuralist language theory often fail to explore the substance of ecopoetry. Scigaj is the first to define ecopoetry as separate and distinct from nature or environmental poetry, marked by its concern with balancing the interests of human beings with the needs of nature. Just as science learned that the earth was not the center of the universe, ecopoetry insists on the recognition that humans are not at the center of the natural world.

The first book to treat the US’s four foremost ecopoets as ecopoets. -- Choice

Scigaj uses his examination of contemporary ecological poetry to mount a direct assault on the way literary theory has been conducted over the past twenty years. -- Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment

Will join John Elder's Imagining the Earth as the most important contribution to date to the study of contemporary ecopoetry. -- Lawrence Buell

A rich context for our understading the work and persons of A.R. Ammons, Wendell Berry, W.S. Merwin, and Gary Snyder, four outstanding American poets. -- Psychological Reports

Anyone who things that nature poetry is a leftover mode from a bygone era, or that all nature poets are alike, needs to read this book before we have no nature left. -- Virginia Quarterly Review

Urges readers to distinguish between two kinds of poetry in order to set the stage for an epic intellectual and aesthetic battle. -- Western American Literature

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






William Stanley Merwin, Wendell Berry, A. R. Ammons, Gary Snyder, American poetry, Nature in literature, Nature conservation in literature

Sustainable Poetry: Four American Ecopoets
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