The Environmentalist?


Does the poem below evidence Günter Grass’s predilection for the environmentalist movement?

Finnish librarian, Petri Liukkonen, has curated and written the Pegasos Authors’ Calendar (Kirjailijakalenteri) for many moons now, a spot I go to for succinct author, theorist, & philosopher introductions. The following was lifted from said spot:

[Günter Grass] has once said, that writers, by giving us ‘’mouth-to-ear artificial respiration,’’ help keep humanity alive.

“You can begin a story in the middle and create confusion by striking out boldly, backward and forward. You can be modern, put aside all mention of time and distance and, when the whole thing is done, proclaim, or let someone else proclaim, that you have finally, at the last moment, solved the space-time problem. Or you can declare at the very start that it’s impossible to write a novel nowadays, but then, behind your own back so to speak, give birth to a whopper, a novel to end all novels” (from The Tin Drum).



Looked for pebbles and found
the surviving glove
made of synthetic pulp.

Every finger spoke.
No, not those daft yachtman’s yarns
but of what will remain:

our litter
beaches long.
While we, mislaid,
will be nobody’s loss.

Günter Grass


4 Responses to “The Environmentalist?”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    July 18th, 2007 at 4:29 pm eHaving spent a lot of time beachcombing in the mid-70s,
    I can vouch for the abstract trash (then especially).
    Interesting…I actually read three things lit up by comparison..
    1) “our litter // beaches long”
    2) “while we, mislaid, will be nobody’s loss”

    (2) is especially interesting right now, both as our species perhaps going wrong,
    (time and evolution filling in the dents)
    and as the growing anonymity of the individual in the roar of the Web
    (making the speckness and lostness more plain to see now).

    Things and times have refrains and redecorated pasts under the Tao.

  2. Helen Losse Says:
    July 18th, 2007 at 11:30 pm eHi Amy, I’ve read this half a dozen times and still don’t know what to comment, except that I really like this poem. Every word seems necessary and in its right position. Grass does begin in the middle and create confusion while tying things up very well. Thanks for posting this.
  3. Gary Says:
    July 19th, 2007 at 4:33 pm eGreat poem, Amy. Thanks for posting.
  4. Amy King Says:
    July 19th, 2007 at 9:59 pm eMost welcome, All! Glad you enjoyed it~

Environment Fiction Poetry Quote

AMY KING View All →

Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She co-edited with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edits the anthology series, Bettering American Poetry, and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.

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