In a sense, I’m farming out my Wilds duties this week because I came across a great Twitter thread from Luther Hughes and I need you to read it.
Hughes put together a sample of nature poems written by black queer men, commenting on them along the way. It’s a successful and impactful use of Twitter, similar to Noah Baldino’s Twitter account astonishments, which posts threads that dive into a single poem.
Hughes’s thread is such a good snapshot of nature poems, a fascinating and complicated genre of poetry (well, all genre is probably fascinating and complicated). It provides a strong framework with an opening block quote from Ed Roberson’s essay, ‘We Must Be Careful,’ from Black Nature. Hughes wants us to pay close attention to the line:
The nature poem occurs when an individual’s sense of the larger Earth enters into the world of human knowledge.
Hughes proceeds to spotlight poets from across generations; Langston Hughes, Derrick Austin, Robert Hayden, Melvin Dixon, Phillip B. Williams, and Carl Phillips, among others. He spends a few lines diving into each poem, teasing out a few details here and there, and the effect is one of open invitation. The readings are such that they leave space for me to enter poems on my own and come away with both my own perceptions and his.
I gravitate toward nature in my reading and my writing, and the exploration of nature, and why and how we write about nature is a lifelong practice. Hughes flips on a light from yet another source, and the depth of field widens.
There’s not much more I can say here that Hughes doesn’t get to himself, so check out the thread and watch your “to read” stack get a little taller.