Here’s an opportunity for contributions to a special issue on plant poetics. Submissions are open from November 1st to December 27th.
Poems and scholarly essays are invited in response to the following prompt from guest editor John Ryan:
A novel area of science called plant cognition is showing us that plants are more than photosynthetic androids or the pleasant (read: agreeable) backdrops to human dramas. Green beings have the ability to communicate with each other and us; select from a range of life options then make decisions; and behave in a manner that suggests a complex interior world of emotions, memory, and feeling. Plants have their own kinds of sentience and intelligence, languages and thoughts. This contentious branch of biology has even pointed to the existence of intergenerational and selective forms of memory in which plants block recollections of traumatic experiences in order to ensure the positive adaptation of themselves and their future kin.
Notwithstanding these novel findings, many poets – from Rumi and Erasmus Darwin to Joy Harjo and Jack Davis – have known this intuitively about the botanical world all along. In this issue of Plumwood Mountain on the theme of plant poetics, I’m looking for poetry that offers fresh, unusual, and eccentric perspectives on the vegetal world. Try removing plants from the backgrounds of your poems. Place them front and centre as protagonists with their own mindfulness. If you want, allow the plants speak to the reader, other plants, other creatures, or themselves. They can be agitated or morbidly depressed, whimsical or tragically ironic (let’s just embrace anthropomorphism for once and see what happens). Of course, they don’t need to speak, but they can.
Plants are beautiful subjects for poems – yes, especially when in flower – but what else are they? Plants are visually appealing – for example, when the bark strips away from gum trees in the middle of summer in Australia – but how do they appeal through sound, touch, taste, smell, synaesthesia, and the spirit domain? What does the philodendron in your bedroom have to say about this prattle?
Author of the novels The Tourist Trail and Where Oceans Hide Their Dead. Co-founder of Ashland Creek Press and editor of Writing for Animals (also now a writing program).