Republic of Apples, Democracy of Oranges gathers work by over ninety contemporary poets writing in English and Chinese. The Chinese poets are from throughout the PRC and Taiwan and include majority as well as minority writers, living in big cities and small towns, and in the Yi, Uyghur, and Inner Mongolian Autonomous Regions. The Americans are equally diverse, coming from cities and towns across the country. Together, their nations produce almost half of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.
These are the voices of the contemporary era of environmental catastrophe, finding the words and forms to express the altered relationship between the human and the non-human worlds. Their poems speak of their shared concerns.
“How do we represent nature in art or sing about it in poetry without also expressing this new reality?” ecologically minded poets ask. “How might syntax, line break, or the shape of the poem on the page express an ecological ethics?” wonders poet Forrest Gander. Eco-poetry expresses the search for answers. There will be many searches, and poets express the answers in their own imaginative ways. Sun Wenbo in “Bland Life, Blunt Poetry” (trans. by Ming Di and Neil Aitken) writes:
… I feel so liberated I start writing about
the republic of apples and democracy of oranges. When I see
apples have not become tanks, oranges not bombs,
I know I’ve not become a slave of words after all.
Also featured is a portfolio of images by photographer Linda Butler of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River and of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi River.
Project Muse (digital edition)
Kindle Edition (ebook)
Amazon.com (print edition)
University of Hawai‘i Press (print edition)