My Poetry Corner July 2021 features the poem “On a Saturday in the Anthropocene” from the anthology HERE: Poems for the Planet (Copper Canyon Press, 2019) edited by Elizabeth J Coleman an American poet, public-interest attorney, environmental activist, and teacher of mindfulness. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Swarthmore College, she practiced law for over thirty years and has served as an executive at several organizations.
In 2012, she received an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She credits Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness for her decision to become a late-career poet. She lives in New York City where she runs Mindful Solutions LLC and is president of the Beatrice R and Joseph A Coleman Foundation.
In the anthology HERE: Poems for the Planet, Coleman brings together her love for poetry, for justice, and for our planet. With a foreword from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, HERE explores our planet’s beauty and plight through the vision of 128 living poets from all over the world.
“When we see photographs of the earth from space, we see no boundaries between us, just this one blue planet, a natural world that supports us all. Therefore, we have to see humanity as one family and the natural world as our home. It’s not necessarily somewhere sacred or holy, but simply where we live—so it’s in our interest to look after it,” writes the Dalai Lama.
The anthology is divided into five sections. In the first section that puts us in touch with the beauty of our planet, Kentuckian farmer and poet Wendell Berry gives us “The Peace of Wild Things” (p.40):
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.