Ecopoetry Now

What Sparks Poetry is a serialized feature that explores experiences and ideas that spark the writing of new poems.

In Ecopoetry Now, poets from Canada, Mexico, and the US engage in an ecopoetic conversation across borders. In poems, poetics statements, and reading lists, their work describes important local differences, including of bioregion and native language, as well as a shared concern for the Earth. We hope to highlight poetry’s integral role in creating and sustaining a broadly ecological imagination that is most alive when biologically, culturally, and linguistically diverse.

Rocío Cerón on (In)Materialities

The Dance of (In)Materialities

Ice blows into my fields
—Forrest Gander

This essay was translated from the Spanish by Sally Keith. Read the Spanish text here.

Correspondences and evocations—from a way of looking at nature, to the immaterial condensation of a word: the cedar, the fringe, the acorn that falls, the words that signify movements, the cadence and the musicality of what they name. Each season has its own name, each one of us, also. Every word is a potential universe and linked together they make unexpected poetic turns, as the borders between worlds screech and hum.

Language and nature are an ancient binomial that has reinforced the physicality between the world we inhabit and how we inhabit naming it. The power of the bird is not only its chirp and trill, but the richness of its name which alters our lips in pronouncing it: albatross, kestrel, blackbird, screech owl, flycatcher, vireo, thrush, golden tanager. It is the word that is the bird, that embodies in breath, in muscular movement, in saliva, and in tones that summon air to give life. Therefore, nature is the first force, the opalescent, and simultaneously, crystalline beauty of a space where a being and its significance meet.

From the materiality of the forest or a great wave in the raging sea, like a heart’s almost quantum leap for love, in the poem, in the group of poems known as “ecopoetry,” the poet returns to peer through, to the front yard, to the backyard of memory, to the bud of a plant that was born of seed placed in the hand of a girl and from which all verbs flower.

The stone is the stone that is the stone. It rolls and rolls before our eyes until it becomes invisible and then it rolls again; and so, it goes until this stone is suspended in front of us and falls in the palm of the hand. In this way, nature talks and sings infinities; we hear it in the middle of an erupting volcano or when a praying mantis mates, leaving the male in a sigh of dust and thirsty for more life, a circular movement that ends in the mouth of rhapsody.

Nature and language—between them is the life that passes in fireflies and nouns, between the footprints of a guinea pig at the foot of a mountain in the Andes and periods and commas that open chapters of other chapters, from which a woman appears rereading a poem her elderly father burned in his hands, burned in order to carry, in fire, the promise of his love for her, forever, beyond death. And nature, with its messy lawn and ice, terrible and full of love, will be there, will still be there. Forever.

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Four Books for Further Reading

Ecopoemas. Nicanor Parra. Barcelona: Vegueta Ediciones, 2021. 

This Connection of Everyone with Lungs. Juliana Spahr.Oakland: University of California Press, 2005. 

Science & Steepleflower. Forrest Gander. New York: New Directions, 1998. 

Mudanza del isonauta. Jorge Riechmann. Barcelona: Tusquets Editores S.A., 2020. 

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Sally Keith is an Editorial Co-Director of Poetry Daily.

Writing Prompt

Cerón says, “The power of the bird is not only its chirp and trill, but the richness of its name which alters our lips in pronouncing it. . .” Write a poem that considers the relationship of an animal to the English word for it.
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Rocío Cerón

Rocío Cerón

Poet and multimedia artist Rocío Cerón is based in Mexico City. Her work transits between artistic languages ​​(poetry, music, body and image) creating transmedia pieces. Her pieces have been shown at international venues as Centre Pompidou, Paris; Southbank Centre, London, Modern Art Museum, Mexico, Cervantes Institutes of Berlin, London and Stockholm; beside many others. She has released the sound poetry album Sonic Bubbles (2020); and published the poetry collections Spectio (2019), Borealis (2016), Nudo vortex (2015), and Diorama (2012). This last title, Diorama, was translated by Anna Rosenwong and won the Best Translated Book Award 2015, awarded by the University of Rochester. She has also been awarded with the National Award of Literature Gilberto Owen 2000 (Mexico), the See America Travel Award 2005 (US) and has been one of the 25 artists selected for the Image Center, Photography Biennial 2021 at the Image Center in Mexico. Her poems have been translated into English and diverse European languages. She is part of the National System of Art Creators of México (SNCA) since 2010. Follow her creative process at www.instagram.com/laobservante and read/hear/see her work at www.rocioceron.com