Thinking Continental: Writing the Planet One Place at a Time

By Brown, Greg | World Literature Today, March/April 2018 | Go to article overview

Thinking Continental: Writing the Planet One Place at a Time


Brown, Greg, World Literature Today


MISCELLANEOUS

Thinking Continental: Writing the Planet One Place at a Time Ed. Tom Lynch, Susan Naramore Maher, Drucilla Wall & O. Alan Weltzien. Lincoln, Nebraska. University of Nebraska Press. 2017. 345 pages.

None can deny that we live in an age of incredible change. Thinking Continental: Writing the Planet One Place as a Time is an anthology of poetry, personal narratives, and critical essays that responds holistically to the unprecedented pressures on the environment today.

Thinking Continental contains a variety of genres to appeal to many readers, but it would be particularly apt as an academic text for a sustainability or environmental literature course or as a supplemental text in an ecology, sociology, or economics course. The essays range from sophisticated cultural and literary criticism such as Fabiana Dimpflmeiers "Where Narratives Met" or Drucilla Wall's "Life on the Western Edge of It All" to the genre-exploding collaboration "Cacophonus Silence (The Sound of Falling Wildly)" by Jess Allen and Bronwyn Preece (self-described as a "transnational experiment in ecological performance poiesis"). Between these antipodes, works such as Elizabeth Dodd's "A World of Islands" or Brendan Galvin's "Plovers, Great Blues, Horned Owl" provide vivid and very relatable narratives of place appropriate for a general audience.

Interwoven between the essays and narratives in Thinking Continental, the poetry would be a fine collection in its own right with work from Alberto Ríos, Tess Gallagher, Linda Hogan, and many others. Twyla M. Hansen's "Communion" captures the soul of the collection with a lament for a liminal place, the windbreaks between fields where the poem's speaker wandered as a child. Alive now only in memory (and vivid verse), these places have been replaced by "a factory of corn / and soybean" built to the scale of machines, and the earth is the body of Christ torn in a heedless and irreverent Eucharist. …

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