Industrial Oz: Ecopoems
By Scott T. Starbuck. Fomite Press: Burlington, VT, 2015.
Industrial Oz: Ecopoems is a 104 page poetry collection about CEOs’ and politicians’ Titanic arrogance in the face of human-caused climate destruction. Bill McKibben described it as “rousing, needling, haunting,” and Thomas Rain Crowe noted it “just may be the most cogent and sustained collection of quality eco-activist poetry ever written in this culture, this country.” Bryan R. Monte of Amsterdam Quarterly wrote, “Starbuck brings the personal and the political quickly together as in his short poem about the melting ice caps, entitled ‘How It Is.’ The poem begins: ‘Sometimes you forget Greenland exists/ like two pages stuck together in a novel . . . . Then it melts and Holland disappears.'”
Other themes include human-caused extinction, rising seas, social collapse and reinvention, a Hopi elder’s prophecy, loss of rainforest, possible oil drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, historical perspective, disappearing sea stars, public apathy, wilderness preservation, challenge of nuclear waste and bombs, mentoring, lack of parenting, melting glaciers, Deepwater Horizon lies, indigenous wisdom, Federal Reserve and banking charades, Greek and Wisconsin austerity, and modern wars.
Two poems from the book are included below.
How to Fish the Wind
You start by listening 40 years
so it can put you through enough
to see if you are worthy
of what it has to say.
Most people can’t listen that long
so they have to get the message
second hand from trees.
* first appeared in Untitled Country Review, and in Slipsteam, Poems and Other Currents (Blog) by Kristin Berger
There is a ghost
like water healing
river’s paddle wounds,
old logging mill
lanced by seeds
of forgotten giants,
weathered like ribs
of a fish skeleton.
that belong here
* first appeared in Mr. Cogito
In 1989 Scott T. Starbuck wrote The City of Depoe Bay’s Memorial Against Offshore Oil Drilling to the Oregon Governor’s Ocean Resources Management Task Force to help stop oil rigs off the Oregon Coast. He was a 2014 Friends of William Stafford Scholar at the “Speak Truth to Power” FOR Seabeck Conference, and has held residencies at Artsmith on Orcas Island, The Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, and Playa in Oregon. He works as a Co-Creative Writing Coordinator at San Diego Mesa College. Starbuck is donating 30% of his 80 % royalty to 350.org which has successfully challenged systems leading to catastrophic climate change, and is acting for a more just and sustainable future.