women and nature

“Beauty is a weapon, a tool that when true beauty is summoned we are rewarded with a feeling of safety and wellbeing, we are granted a reprieve from confusion, we are ushered into peace, because isn’t that what is so often taken away by a culture that devalues us; the feeling of safety, of peace, of hope, of self-acceptance?”

~ Rebecca Walker speaking at the All About Women Conference in Sydney, 2018.


“One ecofeminist theory is that capitalist values reflect paternalistic and gendered values. In this interpretation effects of capitalism has led to a harmful split between nature and culture. In the 1970s, early ecofeminists discussed that the split can only be healed by the feminine instinct for nurture and holistic knowledge of nature’s processes.”

“A common claim within ecofeminist literature is that patriarchal structures justify their dominance through binary opposition, these include but are not limited to: heaven/earth, mind/body, male/female, human/animal, spirit/matter, culture/nature and white/non-white. Oppression is reinforced by assuming truth in these binaries and instilling them as ‘marvelous to behold’ through religious and scientific constructs.”

~ from Wikipedia.


and so it moves

forward; on & on & out.

i have finished listening to The Word for World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin and i ache to get back to the twisted roots & tentacles of that place. Sometimes stuffing your brain up with reading lists & podcasts & albums & videos [& more] is just too much like overload. i keep thinking about David Abram & his Spell of the Sensuous, which had a very huge impact on me when i read it; he taught me that we must drop the words & the books, drop all the stuff that fills our head [with stuff] & move back to the animals in order to really connect. it bugs me sometimes that we can get caught up in an artificial world of writing & ideas that talk about connection to nature when actually, instead of turning our attention out into the world as these books tell us to do, all we do is carry on reading about it. it can be like a drug, getting lost in books like that.

“The philosopher Vinciane Despret listened to a singing blackbird one morning — a living blackbird outside her particular window and that way learned what importance sounds like.”

Donna J. Haraway ~ Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. 

i want to write but i write best when i am not writing, when i am not listening to audiobooks, when i am not watching tv or searching on the internet. i write best when i am in the forest & the forest is observing me not writing. i do best when i am not following that wormhole from one thought to another online.

i get excited by ideas & theories, i get turned on by the a-ha moments, overwhelmed by the eurekas; they come thick & fast when i am in the full flow of research; they take me out of myself oh, so quickly, oh, so very swiftly. i forget my real connections & forge false ties with words on a printed page, with bytes on the computer screen.

the blackbird continues to sing outside my window but why am i no longer listening? because i am here instead; because i am inside this machine.

& the more i read, the more i understand that i should stop reading. as Ursula le Guin subtly suggests in her books [& like many other writers have hinted at] the only way to get ourselves out of this mess is to connect – really connect with the world around us. the more i want to write about this connection the more i understand that i should write less. 

once, not so long ago, i did this thing where for four months, i sat in the same spot for at least an hour a day. at first i struggled with it; i could not settle down, i could not find the perfect spot, i could not open my mind to accept the is-ness of the place i was in but then i managed to settle into it. i sat & watched; did nothing else but watch. i watched the sun moving across the sky, i watched the wind move the leaves & i watched the snow melt from the ground, i watched mosquitoes land on my arms & legs & felt them bite. i watched in minuscule detail; everything. there were no books, no podcasts, no internet articles. i went directly to source & i melted away. i started to care passionately about the land, about the birds animals & insects living there. i thought at one point i could & would die for it. really. Ursula would have been proud.

it is so easy to get distracted. my machine is so shiny & fast. it brings me things almost instantaneously. I think that when I am deep online I want for nothing; this is a huge deception; the truth is, it makes me want more & more & more, without any apparent satiety. the answer is always just around the corner. my reading list grows, my inbox fills, my thoughts spiral out of control & suddenly i no longer feel so passionate about this land i have been sitting on for month & months & the worrying thing is, i suddenly want people to know who i am. i want to get published, i want to be important. I feel that people need to listen to what i am talking about & i am unsettled when it feels like no one hears me.

in reality there IS no one listening … but wait, ha ha. how silly I have been! of course there is someone listening. the forest is forever listening & the blackbird, well – always the blackbird.

from all my reading, from all my discussing, from all my writing, I have found that this is the only thing that i can be absolutely sure of; that I can absolutely rely upon & when i have filled myself up with all these important thoughts, when I have typed everything out neatly [& without error], when I am satisfied that a few people may chance upon these words & nod slowly in agreement,

i know that it is only to the forest that I must return.

sometimes it is not enough to write about being alone in a forest;

about having that mystical experience as one
finds a god-of-one’s-own amongst the trees
sometimes it is not enough to move exclusively through a heavy literary world
enter the echo chamber and never get out again
sometimes one just needs some more personal space on the page to experiment with
sometimes one just needs to write out a list of chemical elements to at least
satisfy that craving for connection
juxtaposed with a line about a night heron craning its neck over a pool of contaminated water
leave it on the bus for someone else to read
sometimes things need to be a little more transparent than
‘will not accept simultaneous submissions’
we all crave a little bit of openness
thoughts that are allowed to spill out onto the page
to have already been published online somewhere.

you know, i have written my first poetry pamphlet!
(that maybe the first & last exclamation mark i have ever made) &
it’s all ready to be sent out into the world, to be calved.
now i look back on it it-
i think- is a stuttering attempt at eco-poetry, although
it IS about death, OK?

it is also a document
/a list of chemicals
/an archive of found objects
/a record of supermarket finds
/a transcript of recordings i made on my phone
/a reference to a Dulux colour chart &
uses a lot of space

and all along i had no idea where it would fit into the scheme of things
whether it should even have a name
because i didn’t want to write about finding myself in a forrrest
i wanted to write about finding the forrrest inside me
but not only that
i wanted it to be a muddled, hashed-up mess of a thing
like how life was when i wrote it

do you think that is what an eco-poem could possibly be?


the stuff above was written in response to this podcast. hope that helps.