Australian poet, Judith Wright who died in 2000 was a long-time activist for the Great Barrier Reef. Writing in 1996, she said “To me it’s a kind of miracle that things have gone so well for the Great Barrier Reef.”
In The Coral Battleground she documented the work of a collective of artists, poets and ecologists who had successfully campaigned to protect the reef from corporate development in the 1960s and 70s. Wright wrote: “If disasters in the shape of weather, accident and climate change lie ahead, the work done already has shown what can be done to shield it from such dangers and has proved that people will agree, in the event, to supplying the help it needs.”
The development of the massive Carmichael coal mine by Adani will be a disaster for the Reef, but not only for the Reef. Indigenous Land Rights were another of Wright’s great passions. Today, the Wangan and Jagalingou people are fighting to defend their lands from Adani and the corporation’s planned mine in the Galilee Basin, Queensland.
From the global impact on climate change to the local impact on the black-throated finch, the development will be shattering. Around Australia, grass roots campaigns to Stop Adani are growing every day.
On Monday 30 October 2017, 40 Australian poets add their voices to the Stop Adani movement. In the spirit of Judith Wright, poets are speaking up to the mining giant. Throughout the day, Plumwood Mountain journal will send poems to Adani, as they are published online, in text, audio and video, over twelve hours from 8.00am Eastern Daylight Saving Time. Many of the poets are award winners and internationally recognised.
Queensland poet, B R Dionysius, writes “in the billionaire’s thoughts he’s ripped out the earth’s coal black throat”. As a consequence, says Dionysius in reference to the black-throated finch: “Their habitat halved like a seed cake.”
Melbourne poet, Claire Gaskin writes “my compliance cannot be bought”.
Western Australian poet Jennifer Maiden has just completed work on the Appalachians where mountaintop removal mining in the U.S. has been disastrous. She describes the proposed Carmichael mine in Queensland as “a betrayal”, asking “what could I say that isn’t said, I think?”
Western Australian poet and activist, John Kinsella patterns his poem on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Kinsella says of his poem, “Apart from the obvious protest and resistances, there’s also a tension over the issue of presence and distance from a site of protest and the fact of the consequences to the entire biosphere being so massive, the ‘distance’ becomes disturbingly ‘erased’ and the consequences felt on all ‘doorsteps’”.
Anne Elvey, managing editor of Plumwood Mountain: An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics, asks, “How does poetry stack up against billions of tonnes of coal? The poets who have given their work to this action are not just writing words of protest. Yes, there are protest poems. There are dystopian poems. But there are also poems that say, poetry provides a different way of seeing the world from a corporate mining one.”
Plumwood Mountain journal takes its title from the mountain near Braidwood, Plumwood Mountain, whose name itself environmental philosopher Val Plumwood adopted for her own. Plumwood, a friend of Wright’s, said “creative writing can … play an important part by making visible new possibilities for radically open and non-reductive ways to experience the world”.
You can read the poems as they are published through out the day, here, on Plumwood Mountain.