Nature: A Restoration

Diana Woodcock’s poetry collection discusses our world, how it’s eroding, and hope for the future.


Facing Aridity by Diana Woodcock. Wayfarer Books. pp. 168. $18.00


The poems in Facing Aridity were inspired by research expeditions and residencies in Alaska, the Arctic Circle, the Everglades, and southern Africa; and by fifteen years spent living in Arabia (Diana Woodcock teaches at VCU in Qatar). Though there is a sadness in the poems—all good poetry seems to have it—there is a sprouting of hope in them as well. “The future for this one Arctic town / now that the sea ice is melting is coastal / erosion.” Yet the problem is not insurmountable. Woodcock suggests that we might create (or recreate) an equilibrium with nature. 

The poet as a witness is a strong perspective. The Romantics (Shelley, Wordsworth, Clare, etc.) saw the sublime in nature, saw the power and might in its destruction and in its quiet tranquility. Woodcock is certainly not as prone to rhyme, but she glances her eye around her, considering her subjects carefully, and relaying them to the reader so that we might understand and help “the earth back into perfection.” There is a “ripple effect” and each animal on the food chain is touched by the delicate (and sometimes not so delicate) vibrations tinkling the chains. The obvious lesson here is to be mindful.

In the poem “Stroking Hope’s Last Ember,” the line, “beside a waterfall far from disaster,” reminds us that there are spaces that have not been trampled by humans. These places are “the last ember of hope.” Or are they? Is Woodcock not telling us to find these waterfalls and be inspired to make more? Of course, we cannot remake a natural waterfall, but we can try to restore and safeguard them. This doesn’t have to come from some environmental political activism; it can come merely from the heart, from the soul of humanity. Many cultures revere and worship nature (the Native Americans, Taoism, Shintoism). Woodcock is simply reminding us of what we have, what we have lost, what we could lose, what we can restore, and what we can gain.

Facing Aridity asks readers to open themselves to earth’s metamorphosis in order to transform what they see and be transformed by what they see. “All of us / together.”  


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