Down to Earth: A Poetry Book | National Humanities Center

Work of the Fellows: Fiction and Poetry

Down to Earth: A Poetry Book

By John Wilkinson (NHC Fellow, 2007–08)

Migration; Environmental Humanities; Poetry; Energy Crisis

Cambridge, UK: Salt Publishing, 2008

From the publisher’s description:

John Wilkinson’s Down to Earth is his darkest work to date: a disturbing road poem of the American mid-West, an epic of migration, an examination of now-ubiquitous borders, and a meteorological tour of our growing energy crises. Global and internal flows of capital, consumer products, waste, labour and body parts all shape its contorted map of the 21st century.

Narrative poems echoing traditional forms, are intercut with damaged and damaging lyrics; these various styles have their analogues in the sculpture several passages praise and deprecate. In addition, Down to Earth incorporates an extended homage to Artemis of Ephasus.

Wilkinson’s book forms one single thematically-interrelated poem, and although its materials are bleak, the book’s caesura-driven prosody honours the hopes and courage of the people involved in mass migration and local struggles. Like every book by John Wilkinson, Down to Earth knows no limit to poetry’s ambition, dodging every border post, down every highway, like the ocelot running through its narratives, and struggling to create a sheltering place in often pitiless landscapes.

Fiction and Poetry / Environment and Nature / Migration / Environmental Humanities / Poetry / Energy Crisis /

Wilkinson, John (NHC Fellow, 2007–08). Down to Earth: A Poetry Book. Salt Modern Poets. Cambridge, UK: Salt Publishing, 2008.