'Poetry will never be able to compete with skydiving. Or juggling fire.'
This is a quote from the entertaining introduction to iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home About a collection by Luke Armstrong. There is only one poem about dolphins in the book:
Dolphins are clicking at us, but nobody
cares. We haven’t forgotten the past, they click. We just see
no need to keep it in the same desperation that obliges you
to recreate the ocean for us. We’re not idiots. We know this
isn’t the ocean. But we’re easy going.
From Something for the Dolphins to Click Home About
Luke is not primarily a nature poet or an environmentalist, but environmental concerns appear in several of his poems. Going with the Garbage takes a trip with household rubbish up to the garbage mountain where:
Maria and Rosa, Hernan and Jose, Julian and Julianita
spend their days, plucking bottles from hell,
and details the appalling life conditions of the people who scrape a living from collecting garbage (I recently saw Waste Land an inspiring documentary film about an art project involving a community of waste pickers, you can read my review here).
Luke's main preoccupation in his poetry is with human relationships and social justice, both of which he treats by turn with humour and with tenderness, often using imagery from the natural world:
Open a cocoon and you've
nearly found a butterfly
from Death in the Morning
He is also a poet of ideas, some poems seem to burst with the number of ideas in them and many of these seem to read like prose rather than poetry. One of these is iPoems, which after sharing lots of ideas, ends beautifully, with the idea of an infinite range of poetry being out there:
These are the elapsed poems that are always shuffling,
waiting for the right color of twilight to be seen suddenly
just before descending to night.
This is a very varied collection of poetry and well worth reading.