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EDITORIAL This issue was created to sing of nature, of the more-than-human: to praise it, to examine it, but to allow it to be its own thing, irreducible to easy human ideas or feelings. And what brilliant work we have here. Mike Jenkins serenades sparrows in a bush, far from mundane but magical. Damen O’Brien sings a sonnet to the tardigrade, as it ‘blow[s] like dust between the stars.’ Andy Brown praises an untameable mare, Lynne Hjelmgaard a cow, Rhea Seren Phillips a pond, and Yanita Georgieva ‘Mother Nature’ herself, though she is very different to the stereotype. Poets resists stereotypes of being in nature too. Elspeth Wilson rejects the ‘poem as a walk’ in ‘I want to laze outdoors’, and Jamie Woods in ‘Block Caps No Nuance’ rejects ableist versions of ‘nature as healer’. We also look in this issue to poets who have been contemplating nature for whole careers. Graham Hartill and Phil Maillard write a tribute to the late Chris Torrance. Their essay outlines Torrance’s ‘gift and challenge to hold honestly to his vision of change, his duty of witness, even when that change had a negative impact on the landscapes he loved.’ Also, Robert Minhinnick writes a lively review – part praise-poem, part roast – of his friend and colleague John Barnie. Assessing Barnie’s poem, ‘The Green Woodpecker,’ Minhinnick describe it as:

a beautiful piece of writing that transports the reader. I can see, and keep seeing, that woodpecker. It has become every green woodpecker I’ve ever glimpsed. All this writing seeks to preserve and cherish the more-than-human even if it is different to us, independent and beyond our control. I did not expect, however, that I would be writing this editorial in the light of the monumental events of the Russian invasion, as Ukrainian cities are being shelled and bombed. Maybe the opposite of nature is war, because even while nature – it’s true – contains violence, human beings have invented new forms of horror: the vacuum bomb, nuclear weapons, and other elaborate ways of maiming, killing, and exterminating each other and all life around us.

Violence is a theme that occurs across poems and articles in this issue. In the essay, ‘How Being A Girl Poet Saved My Life’, Jenny Mitchell describes the violence of institutional obstacles to her development as a young poet. Kim Moore offers an article on ‘Poetry and Intimate Partner Violence,’ reflecting on what parts of ourselves we might claim back with poetry. In ‘Agent Orange’, Jay Gao writes about the story of the erstwhile scientist Arthur Galveston, whose research was used to create the titular chemical, employed in the Vietnam War to destroy rich riverbank mangroves, the chemicals causing cancers and birth defects in the land’s inhabitants. Peter Sirr’s poem, ‘Constructing the memory,’ struggles with a world after J. Robert Oppenheimer’s atomic bomb, another invention fatal for humans and the environment.

And this brings us to the strange mixture of natural environment and artificial light in the cover art for this issue by Barry Underwood. Underwood’s temporary installations, in his own words, ‘illuminate environments that hold rich ecological and cultural histories and are sites of destructive human behavior’. Like the comparison in Jennifer Militello’s poem, ‘Artificial Intelligence as Jellyfish’, the natural and manmade sit together uncomfortably. Ultimately though, we are all connected – the more-than-human and humans from everywhere. Nature is us and we are nature, and the destruction of nature is the destruction of ourselves.

ZOË BRIGLEY

2 POETRY WALES

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