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Activist Poetics


“Activism” is often associated with aggression, extremism, romanticism, and destruction rendering it ineffective and polarizing. Given the unstable state of Earth’s ecosystems today, environmental activism needs to be as powerful as possible in creating change. My senior project investigated where art and ecopsychology fit into activism and how poetry can inspire action. To explore this, I immersed myself in the world of activist poetry. I read through dozens of published modern and historical artistic initiatives in addition to research on poetics, writing, and storytelling. I self-selected three books for their environmental and emotional relevance. Together, Rupi Kaur, Innosanto Nagara, and Christopher Poindexter demonstrated a power in language that articulates personal and emotional human-nature experiences. These poets respectively use techniques that conjure images of place, call on real-world figures, and metaphorically converse with the non-human. Analysis such as this afforded me tools to write what I could eventually call my own environmental activist poetry book. Thus, I have produced Each Step In– a book of my own poems, illustrations, and spoken word pieces– in an effort to connect with an audience of potential change-makers. My hopes are that readers can experience alongside with me the many emotions– those turbulent and those empowering– that come with acknowledging and confronting global environmental injustice. Bigger picture, those looking to maximize the efficacy and longevity of environmental activism can engage with rhetoric found in this book and beyond in search of what it looks like to successfully inspire action.