Visual Stories

Perspectives on Nature

Humans versus Earth

In this video, the poet expresses an antagonistic relationship between humanity and nature.

As you watch this video, note the usage of a linear timeline to express the idea that humans have in a short period of time affected the ecosystem.

Humanity as Inseparable from the Earth

Here, the poet Audre Lorde engages the audience differently– her poetry is not linear or aiming to create a causal historical timeline– her poetic voice is lyrical– the use of metaphor becomes a tool for linking nature, the body and the emotional/philosophical.

The poems “Coal” and “Spring” showcase her perspective/position which is that humanity and nature are interconnected two the point that spoken or written references to nature are crucial to human communication. Lorde states in her poem “Coal” the following “… I am black because i am from the earth’s inside.” The reference attributes to her all that human communities may know about the earth’s core. She utilizes within her poems references to nature, and to what some may term ‘natural resources’ as a method of communicating ideas and sentiments that are emotionally complex. When listening to her poetry take note of how emotionally complex sentiments are expressed via nouns such as “rain,” “wind,” “spring,” “autumn,” “coal”.

Her poetry allows for the reader/listener to consider what has always been there– but left unexplored– how much of human communication is dependent on collectively shared and understood references to nature and how these references allow for emotional expression across cultures.

Instructor Note: As you watch this video, note that Audre Lorde’s poetry is an example of more formal traditions of producing poetry—however, her work has greatly influenced Spoken Word artists and evidence of her influence is seen in the video at the bottom of the reading “Poetry is Not a Luxury.” 

Humans as Stewards of the Earth

This poem is written by a young girl—she wrote it as part of a school assignment. It is an adorable example of the philosophical position of stewardship—of humans as caretakers of the earth. The admonishing tone this young poet deploys captures the idea of nature needing humans to care for their environment and the moral burden some human populations have placed on themselves to “save” the earth.

Nature as Teacher: listening to the wisdom of nature

Unlike the poetry of Lorde which utilizes the phenomena of references to nature as language or tool of expressing expressing complex emotions. This Spoken Word piece/video presents the philosophical position that much like a deity or a parental figure—that nature consciously aims to communicate with humanity and thereby teach important moral lessons.

Notice that for this poet in order to listen to nature humanity would have to travel into natural environments—far away from urban areas. Also, notice how the personification of nature as teacher means for this poet that the earth is able to hear and to communicate; however for this poet what the earth communicates are peaceful messages and as such environmental phenomena such as earthquakes, wildfires or terrible storms which may devastate human communities are absent from the imagined will of nature.

Notice the differences between each of the poems as you watch this final video.


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