Thinking through the Arts – Rachael Mead

Date: Wednesday 30 October

Time: 7pm

Beyond Nature Poetry

We are presently living through a newly defined era termed the Anthropocene, an epoch of immense change, which acknowledges the impact of human beings as being so pervasive and profound as to have shaped the Earth at a planetary scale. How are poets responding to the natural world in this era of the Anthropocene?

We can no longer imagine nature as something able to be kept at arm’s length, as something to merely observe, inspect or admire. At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the Romantic poets revolutionised the way in which people responded to the non-human world. So how should contemporary poets confront this new epoch in which humanity’s influence is all-pervasive?

Nature is now more than blue ranges of mountains, vast skies or eagles circling on thermals. It’s also coral reefs bleached white as bone, tidelines clotted with plastic debris and melting glaciers releasing anthrax from ancient animal corpses. As poets and writers, the complexity of Anthropocene presents us with enormous challenges.

Should we refine the elegy as a lament for the species, people and places that have and will be lost? Should we strive to develop new languages of grief and/or hope? Should Anthropocene nature poetry function as a form of eco-advocacy or a means of stimulating empathy for the more-than human world? Or should it be something else entirely?

Rachael Mead is a poet, short story writer, arts reviewer and writing mentor living in South Australia. She’s had an eclectic life, working as an archaeologist, environmental campaigner and seller of books both old and new. She has an Honours degree in Classical Archaeology, a Masters in Environmental Studies, a PhD in Creative Writing and is an affiliate of the J. M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice at the University of Adelaide. She is the author of four collections of poetry: The Flaw in the Pattern (UWA Publishing 2018), The Sixth Creek (Picaro Press 2013) and the chapbooks Sliding Down the Belly of the World (Wakefield Press 2012) and The Quiet Blue World (Garron Publishing 2015). Her work has also published in Best Australian Poems, Meanjin, Westerly, Cordite, Island, Southerly, Australian Poetry Journal and Magma Poetry UK.

Thinking through the Arts is a series of six public lectures on Wednesday evenings in the Hills, exploring the way different mediums and art forms think materially.

Thinking through the Arts is a collaboration between Fabrik and the JM Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice.

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