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Even before the Brazilian rainforest became engulfed in flames, we knew that the evolving worldwide ecological crisis was one of existential magnitude. Vast territories of arctic glaciers melt, while huge swaths of earth’s permafrost continue to thaw, discharging methane, Pleistocene corpses, and microbes from millennia past. Hurricanes and typhoons are counterpointed by drought, against a backdrop of steadily escalating temperatures across the globe. Our oceans, choking on plastic and myriad chemicals, are rising up as if in protest. Populations of insects, birds, fish, mammals, flowers, trees, coral—living beings of every kind—are increasingly endangered as their habitats suffer, ushering them toward extinction. It is inarguable that our planet and all of its denizens, both flora and fauna, humans among them, are imperiled. Earth Elegies addresses this essential theme and celebrates our fragile, sublime, indispensable world.
Contributors included here range from poets and naturalists to fiction writers and essayists. Some are elegiac, others incensed. Some envision Anthropocene apocalypse, others offer historical and scientific perspectives. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is invoked, as are the Agbogbloshie e-waste dump in Ghana and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch’s toxic cousin in the Atlantic. Cases of deadly Naegleria fowleri are contracted by innocent swimmers in a Catskills lake. The Brazil nut foragers and eco-martyrs Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva and Zé Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva are remembered here, having been assassinated for their activism in the Amazonian state of Pará, where for years they had subsisted in harmony with their natural surroundings. Even a phantasmagoric Moby Dick resurfaces with Ahab in tow to engage in combat with multinational corporations shipping products across the ocean that are harmful to the ecology.
All of these writers have approached our theme from unexpectedly different angles, but no matter how diverse their narratives, the many voices and visions in this issue emanate from a single concern: the survival of our planet.
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Fallen Martyrs, Felled Trees
Acequias as Quipus, Quipus as Poems
A Theory Pre-Post-Mortem
The Entanglements: A Representation
The Great Trash Vortex: Dispatch from Fuerteventura, Islas Canarias
Valley of Glass
Think of It
Once Out of Nature
Third Étude Ending “Soon Come” Rebegun
The Magical Substratum
Two Elemental Elegies
Ancient Inland Sea
Mountains & The Wind
Moby Dick, Ecoterrorist
Naming the Storm
Notes on a Metamorphosis
Excerpt from Sen’s Ninth and Final Notebook: S.+648 Days to S.+731 Days