We applaud Anjali
Vaidya’s bold and poetic
essay “Native or Invasive” (March/April 2017),
which suggests a parallel
between native plant proponents’ rampant hostility toward “invasive”
species and xenophobia regarding human
immigrants. “Othering,” whether directed
toward plants, animals, or humans, has
never done much to advance either science
or human rights. Fortunately, more and
more researchers are now acknowledging
that migration is a fundamental right of
nature, and that in our assault on “
invasive” species, we have hubristically done
more ecological harm than good. Here in
Northern California, a group of environmental activists have fought —successfully,
so far — against a plan to clearcut hundreds
of thousands of eucalyptuses, a stigmatized tree species. The shortsighted folly of
such a plan— in an era of climate chaos,
when every tree is a precious carbon
sink—cannot be overstated. Like many
“restorationists,” the plan’s supporters,
who, shockingly, call themselves environmentalists, hitch their wagon to the
heavy use of pesticides intended to prevent regrowth of the hated species. Many
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thanks to Anjali Vaidya for
this thoughtful article about
nativity and where plants and
El Sobrante, California
I agree with Robin Kimmerer, who
writes in her essay “Speaking of Nature”
(March/April 2017) that the English language holds a great deal of power in shaping people’s mindsets. As we spread the
seeds of ki and kin, I wonder if the LGBTQ
rights movement might provide fertile
ground. Many of us who have never identified strongly with the male or female
gender have been deeply hurt by the limiting binary pronouns of she/her/hers and
he/him/his. Many people now request
to be referred to as they/them/theirs, or
even ze (pronounced “zee”). Wouldn’t it be
wonderful if we could add the pronouns
ki/kin to our lexicon for genderqueer
folks as well?
Thanks to Robin Kimmerer for articulat-
ing these insights so beautifully. English
is my native tongue, and it often fails me.
Words do build worlds; they can also tear
them down. Let’s continue to rediscover
root words, such as ki/kin, and bring them
into daily use to remind us all of our place
alongside our kin in this magnificent world.
Noah Davis begins his review of Jenny
Johnson’s book of poems In Full Velvet
(March/April 2017) by acknowledging
Johnson’s creative debt to Gerard Manley Hopkins. “Yet unlike Hopkins,” Davis
writes, Johnson “exposes creation’s freckled loveliness to be sensual, even sexual.”
This is a slight misreading of Hopkins, a
Jesuit priest in Victorian Britain who, as a
(most likely) lifelong celibate, transmuted
his sexuality into a deeply religious and
sensuous poetry. His evidently homoerotic
paeans, his reverence for the peculiar
“inscape” of each natural thing, and his
creation of a complex metrical structure he
called “sprung rhythm” have led some contemporary queer poets, Johnson among
them, to herald Hopkins as a forbear. Try
reading his “Pied Beauty” and Johnson’s
“Dappled Things” aloud, and you’ll understand the shared essence of their work.
Brooklyn, New York