Affrilachian poet brings sympathy toward nature


The Appalachian Online

Lauren Burrows

With fracking and mountaintop removal posing enormous threats to our backyard, many environmental activists have been speaking up, but few have brought sympathy as well as Affrilachian poet Crystal Good, who talks about environmental issues through personification and sexualization of nature.

CASE and Appalachian Studies presented a special Earth Day reading by the Affrilachian Poets on Wednesday night, open free to students. The three poets in the group highlighted different issues to speak about, with one very special tribute to the environment by Good.

Good moved the audience not only with her beautiful words but by bold literary techniques.

Most activists explain the problems humans will face if these harmful environmental practices ensue, and how humans will benefit from stopping them. Good instead focuses on sympathizing with the environment and the mountains themselves, as if they are our peers.

One of Good’s poems she recited, “BOOM BOOM,” spoke about strip-mined mountains, but personified the mountains as if they were women who stripped their clothes for money.

“I see the mountain as a woman. This poem is about strip mining as much as it is about gender,” Good said, “It’s hard for a stripper to reclaim her reputation — it’s impossible to put back a stream or a mountain top once it’s gone.”

She spoke about mining in her home state of West Virginia in her poem, “Black Diamonds,” where young miners are crushed from the mountains falling under million years of pressure. Her unique diction and creative expression helped listeners to not only sympathize to the miners who lost their lives, but to the mountains that finally fell from the continued assault.

Yet another poem, “Mr. Marcellus Shale” personified the natural gas sought after by countless energy companies as a man. Mr. Marcellus, in this poem, was portrayed as a man who “drilled” the mountains continuously, written in a sexual context, showing the drilling as a sexual innuendo for the harmful practice of fracking that is taking place.

This practice of personification and sexualization helps the audience to better understand what they are doing to the environment in ways that they as humans can relate to.

Mountains made of rock are now being viewed with blood and flesh, and the response is sympathy for the pain we are inciting upon them.

The gap is being bridged between humans and the environment we are dismantling.

Poetic environmental activists are hoping that this sympathy will bring justice to our planet that it has so long cried out for. Perhaps if more poetry like Good’s was heard, the resonation felt would soon bring this goal to accomplishment.

Opinion by Lauren Burrows, opinion writer