"Love beyond anything I will ever make of it": Lyric Poetry as an Approach to Writing about Climate Crisis

Kuhn, Krysten, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Kuhn, Mary, AS-English (ENGL), University of Virginia

This thesis examines the affordances of the climate lyric poem and its affective capabilities when writing about the climate crisis and environmental challenges. Drawing on the work of Min Hyoung Song, Nicole Seymour, Rob Nixon, and others, the thesis first offers an overview of the diverse approaches to environmental care taken by climate poets, including empathy, reverence, anthropomorphism, and irony. The analysis that follows traces the impact of these approaches through close readings of three contemporary climate lyric poems: "Rings of Fire" by Craig Santos Perez, "Great Barrier" by Barbara Kingsolver, and "Nature Poem" by Tommy Pico. These poets’ unique perspectives and approaches illuminate different facets of the complex relationship between humans and the environment. By leveraging a variety of tropes, themes, and stylistic choices of lyric poetry from past to present, Santos Perez, Kingsolver, and Pico offer compelling works that implore readers to confront the urgency of climate change and advocate for environmental stewardship. Without dismissing the conceptual challenges posed by climate change, this thesis remains optimistic about the transformative power of affective strategies employed by climate lyric poets.

MA (Master of Arts)
lyric poetry, climate change, care
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