“…narratives remain our chief moral compass… we use them to motivate and explain our actions, the stories we tell change the way we act in the world” (William Cronon 1992)
Robert Zeller and CA Cranston state that there are “[t]wo things that make Australia distinctive [and they] are its history [colonial and relation to its Indigenous people] and perhaps more obviously, its very different natural environment” (2007, p10). They believe that these two things have impacted on Australian writing, making Australian literature “…amenable to study using ecocritical approaches” (2007, p10). I am working on a place study of the Southern Highlands and the Shoalhaven, which are two places that have a close semblance to England; with the rich soils and planting of introduced trees, shrubbery and flowers. I believe that a study of these two seemingly monocultural settings, that do not display features of the Australian ‘outback’, will enrich Australian ecocriticism and postromanticism. The poetry I will be critiquing is not ecocritical or postcolonial, which could be considered concerning given that Cronon has asserted that stories “…change the way we act in the world” (1992, p1375). Much of the poetry I will be exploring could be discussed as postromantic. I think that the main questions to deliberate within my thesis will be what does the lack of postcolonial writing say about this place and broader Australian relations to Australia’s Indigenous peoples. As well as, do postromantic images of the natural environment, which praise and celebrate the environment, raise awareness for ecological preservation? Does poetry need to be ecocritical, and explicitly discuss the threats to the environment to change the way people within this place, within Australia and within the broader global context relate to the planet Earth in these times of global warming? I will hope to also address, in a small way, the larger question, do poets need to consider the political, social and ecological effects of their poetry, or is poetry an art form that is separate from these concerns?