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The bird seen first time here in forty years sings Journalistic environmental essay on the wire, you turn to touch the shoulder of a friend and turning back together find nothing but sky and wire trembling.
We had not seen one here in nine years, and there might not have been a sighting long before this. But there might have been. A possum or possums may have been driven out, removed from the roof cavity — there are, sadly, people who will do this and then exterminate them.
Even now residual and remnant York gum and jam tree woodland, granite boulders and granite outcrops, in patches of greater and lesser density, provide enough for native fauna to retain a hold.
Looking south across Jam Tree Gully. As far as I and my family are concerned, we have an obligation to return this land to a health that though distant from its pre-colonial state of health, Journalistic environmental essay least gestures towards it.
One of the dominant linguistic behaviours of our family residency in the area, of our presence, is to discuss what other living things we see every day, and how they relate to the country we see them on.
These are intricate and informed observations, cross-referenced with what is likely to be seen, differences in, say, behaviour mating plumage, nesting processes, shifts in song, etcnumbers, and implication. Like his parents, Tim sees language as part of presence, and these observations are an essential part of his own poetry-making.
Tracy Ryan Similarly, I spend my time out on the block doing restorative tasks and acts, and working their language into the matrix of my writing. The language is in flux because rather than a taxonomy, a nomenclature of seeing and presence, what happens is that experience of habitat loss, and attempts at habitat restoration, place words, syntax and utterance as we have it under pressure.
Something else emerges, an active language of presence that needs to critique the ironies of its own impact, of its own vicarious and direct participation in the ongoing dynamics of dispossession and acquisition. The poem itself is alive — made by the writer, it takes on a life of its own.
So, does this mean I am suggesting the poem itself, for example, channels the disturbances and distresses of country? Well, yes, up to a point. The wasp making its mud cells and inserting caterpillars or spiders, stunned but alive with a wasp egg laid inside their bodies, to be eaten alive — in a state of life suspended — by wasp grubs, which break out of their dark cells into the light.
Or maybe something a little more acceptable to a readership which ultimately looks for affirmation of connection with the natural world while benefiting from capitalist exploitation of place look around usan echidna moving rapidly downhill, its quills liquid in the fractured light of late afternoon sun streaming over the rim of valley, through the York gum canopy.
And we see their scats. In fact, coming across scats is how we identify so much, including the brushtail possum. Scats, footprints, scratchings and sounds, especially at night. These languages are outside direct encounter, and often outside a description we might offer.
Echidna sightings are coming less often, though evidence of their presence remains strong. The poem interprets this as avoidance and strategy on the part of the echidna — we respect the not-seeing, and delight in the evidence of presence.
But in the case of eagles, the illegal killing of an eagle in a pair that were resident for many, many years, is an undoing that is hard to resolve under habitat-loss pressure. Roos at Jam Tree Gully just before the fences came down.
John Kinsella All life we see on the block is vulnerable to human violence — thrill-killings of animals are sadly not uncommon, and there seems a strong link between far-right politics of patriotism and shooting around the district.
So many of the farmlets and blocks around where we live appear to have been bought by FIFO fly in fly out workers real estate ads often overtly pitch to FIFO buyers, and I offer anecdotal evidence of conversations direct and indirect with and involving neighboursand in many circumstances the psychology of the mine looks as if it has been brought to those blocks — substantial bush clearing, clear indifference to wildlife, and a psychology of control, ownership and what manifests by intent or default as a disrespect of Aboriginal land rights.
Of course, such attitudes to country are not unique to FIFO miners, far from it, and they have found around them a context of receptivity to such ways.
And I do not blame the individual miners for this per se, but I do blame the mining companies and those who facilitate the abuses of land by those miners.
A work psychology too readily becomes a life psychology. John Kinsella In creating writing that acts as witness to species loss, we too easily become contributors to the archive, to the seedbank of metaphors that substitute for the real thing.
Science bears many moral ironies that I feel an active, restorative poem should not. I am saying it should be aware of them and critique its own role in the destruction.
A poem having a role in destruction? I hear you wonder. Because industrialised consumer life is impacting and many, even the most environmentally-minded, make their art through the tools of exploitation. It becomes a question of genuinely weighing up the cost in terms of the benefit to the environment.
Does getting the message out there regarding habitat destruction cost more morally and literally than not doing so?
An economics of the figurative needs to be held accountable, scrutinised. An example is the brown bitternwhich I used to see and hear as a child when around swampy areas, and which is now almost extinct, certainly in the Northam region.Syllabus (printable PDF incl. day-to-day schedule); Course Description.
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