‘Industrial Oz: Ecopoems’ by Scott T. Starbuck

Industrial-ozPhillip Barron at The Quarterly Conversation:

In an epistolary keynote address delivered this past June, poet Aaron Abeyta tells the Association of American University Presses “perhaps we are all here to trace and collect words, to sow meaning; we collect that thing which people discard as ordinary and bring it to a page of life where it can flourish and be the map of human struggle and therefore an instruction as to how we can all survive.” When I read his letter, I am interested in who “we” are. On one reading, Abeyta includes himself with the academic book publishers he addresses, thinking of writers and publishers collaborating to bring pages to life. On another reading, Abeyta identifies with his high school teacher who, to address his unruly classroom behavior, gave the freshman the key to the cabinet with seniors’ books. In the cabinet he found Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, learned that he would “love books and their saving power”, and discovered his own career path to university professor. On yet a third reading, perhaps Abeyta’s “we” speaks of writers and specifically poets. Writers are, after all, the ones who collect language, that “which people discard as ordinary.”

The speaker in Scott T. Starbuck’s poem, “Speaking to a Street Person about the Problem with North America,” attends a house party where dancing and music rage on even while the house begins to burn. Smoke enters

through door cracks
and no one can hear the sirens
because music and laughter
are too loud for all
except us dogs to hear.

Once again, I am interested in the “us.”

more here.