A.C. Bevan, Field Trips in the Anthropocene (Rack, 2020)
Ben Ray, The Kindness of the Eel (SmithDoorstop, 2020)
Susie Campbell, Tenter (Guillemot, 2020)
Carole Bromley, Sodium 136 (Calder Valley, 2020)
In the current geological age known as the Anthropocene, a period defined by human activity’s impact on the environment, writers are increasingly communicating how public and planetary health are linked. Exploring different but intertwined aspects of global health and politics, these four collections are prescient reminders of how environmental and social inequalities persist in the ‘unprecedented’ year of 2020.
A.C. Bevan’s latest pamphlet, Field Trips in the Anthropocene, treads familiar ground for contemporary ecopoetry: rising sea levels, endangered species, and the environmental consequences of capitalist expansion are directly referenced throughout. What sets this collection of eco-poems apart from many others is its naming of contemporary technologies and trends from Paleo diets to downsizing, Bitcoin to Tinder, and referendums to freegans. There are moments when criticism of technological advancement borders on suspicion, such as the warning in ‘The Algorithm’ that ‘Your safe-word is the wake-word to your always-on smart hub’. Yet references to everyday life in urban Britain lend a sense of authenticity to the collection. The only exception is in the second poem, ‘Latimeria Lazarus’; the poetic voice is uncharacteristically reserved and borders on reverent when discussing the Coelacanth, a species of fish previously thought to be extinct that was discovered off the east coast of South Africa in 1938.
‘This Week in History’, the opening poem ...
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