‘Seeking to be here, doing this’: Po-Essaying into Agro-ecological Thinking

By and | 31 October 2021



‘This is the important work of the poem: to unify otherwise
fragmented experience.’
(Parini 15)

My shoes are inadequate for farm terrain in Winter – for tramping across mud, negotiating puddles or whistling through wet grass. I have been meaning to buy a pair of gumboots for some years, but always leave it too late in the season, when stores have packed away their remaining supplies for the next year. I wear these blue shoes – leather boots with laces and a zip on the side – to Jonai Farms and leave with brown streaks across the toes, dirt crusting in the tread.

‘In its connection of vision and thought we find the first secret
of poetry’s ability to quarry knowledge by mining the outer for
inner ore.’
(Hirshfield 128)

I’m still processing all this information – Tammi’s words as we tour the farm (garlic patch, greenhouse, Belvedere with shelves of ripening cheese and preserves at the back of the scullery, the milking shed, and, of course, the many litters of piglets), the story of this place, the plans for the future, the sensory data: feet crunching on muddy gravel, feet tramping through grass, a sow rooting through dirt. Moving through this space, like a poem.

‘A poem, literally, makes a space to move through.’
(Zapruder 57)

Invited to a writing task, my poet’s mind attempts to forge friendships. Mud to blue; garlic to litter; whistle to pen. Wrong turns, little pigs.

‘Connections between unconnected things are the unreal
reality of Poetry.’
(Howe 97)

The fallout of our failing sense of direction, feeling our way through commodities – like stubbing a toe repeatedly in a dark room full of heavy objects. This is what it feels like when an experience sparks not only reflection but forward-thinking. As in: ‘I should be doing more things in this other way.’

‘The [ordinary man] falls in love, or reads Spinoza, and these two
experiences have nothing to do with each other, or with the noise of
the typewriter or the smell of cooking; in the mind of the poet these
experiences are always forming new wholes.’
(T S Eliot qtd. Parini 18)

A poem, alone, cannot solve a problem.

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