In an age of record-breaking superstorms and environmental degradation, What Nature seeks to make sense of how we interact with and are influenced by nature. But the poems in this collection were not written on Walden Pond. They were not written because poetry can save the Earth. They are themselves far cries: urgent calls for rethinking our place on an imperiled planet. Read a selection of online-only poems and essays from the project below, as well as preview from the print volume. You can also order a copy of What Nature here.

—The Editors


Review Essays




Kaveh Akbar, Aubade

Pardon my asking, but do you think I could drink
this and be okay? I am still learning the scents
of poisons, can’t yet smell them in the wild. Sip it 
and tell me if you die.

Desirée Alvarez, Diary of the Ghost of a Mestiza

Mis palabras are electrified seashells torching the dirt path
to the village smelling of dinner fire.

                                              They are crisp leaves of poison underfoot.

Rae Armantrout, Preview

As fire rages through the western forest
Jeff Bridges snarls,
“If you want a piece of me,
Come get me.”

Jericho Brown, The Rabbits

They expressed my desire
To mount and be
Mounted as they scurried
Into the darkest parts of what

Camille Dungy, Elegy beginning in the shade of Aunt Mary’s mulberry tree

A week before the woman whose tree
          that golden dog was tied to died, I watched
my daughter trust its limbs.

Claire Hero, Fresh Kills

Trash this language
that clutters, that eddies and snags, and whelps
its litter in hoarded places

Brenda Hillman, Among Some Anapests at Civic Center

Poets are often tired
We don’t think the hitting will work
We grow calm          among the zeroes

Irène Mathieu, Two Poems

every poem I write is about the same thing:
how ordinary it is to want a long line of sunrises,
bowls of oatmeal with you—in other words

Ted Mathys, From Shale Plays

Two counties away, an Iraq vet with PTSD
braces for the next tremor in a beige La-Z-Boy.
He watches a documentary about the tides and sea.

Mutsuo Takahashi (trans. Jeffrey Angles), Lovers in the Time of Nuclear Power

There is not a single tree to cast a shadow
Nor a single bird to wing through the air
Our field of vision is filled with thronging towers of flame
Invisible, infinitesimal gods that split and fissure continuously

Read the editors’ note to What Nature by Timothy Donnelly, BK Fischer, and Stefania Heim here.