Good Reading : June 2007
categorical complex scientific material and bringing it to the ordinary reader. However, he does more than simply report scientific facts. In calling on individuals and the global community to make urgent changes and adopt new approaches to energy use, The Weather Makers crosses into the territory of environmental advocacy. It is probably Australia’s strongest contribution to date to the environmental debate, especially internationally. Place-based writing — the Arcadian tradition At the other end of the spectrum, according to its compiler Mark Tredinnick, the nature writing anthology A Place on Earth is still outside the mainstream in Australia, although it is populated with familiar writers. In this collection of North American and Australian nature writing, Tredinnick has drawn together some of North America’s best known contemporary nature writers, including Gary Snyder (A Place in Space) and Peter Matthiessen (The Snow Leopard), and teamed them with a wide range of Australian writers including Tim Winton (Land’s Edge), Eric Rolls (A Million Wild Acres) and Patrice Newell (The Olive Grove). ‘At its best, this literature listens to the land and to those people intimate with its places,’Tredinnick writes in the intro- duction. ‘It puts words and their music, it puts imagination, to work in service of that larger order – the land, natural history – in which we humans live; on which we depend for air and ground and water and for lessons in grace and endurance, beauty and necessity.’ There are many modes of writing in the environmental field, including the polemical, which has an important place in calling on people to make changes in their lives. But Tredinnick celebrates the poetic mode as a vital addition. ‘Changing consciousness requires a lot more than argumentation and exposi- tion,’ he says. ‘In Australia we have good political and didactic writing, but we don’t have a tradition of lyric writing. Poetic writing has the power to change us deep down, without telling us what to do.Words that are beautifully made will strike you with the same kind of force that nature does itself. People need to be stirred and moved.Writing which does this attends to its rhythm structures, is beautifully economic, is smart and wise. It rises up out of artistic tranquillity, not just out of urgency. ‘Judith Wright said in the sixties that you don’t make a literature until you reconcile yourself with your land. Until then the literature will speak of your exile and the places you’re from rather than where you are. Australian poetry is certainly getting there – you read the poetry and feel the country.Tim Winton suggests to me that we are now getting there in prose.’ Social ecology Mapping the history of environmentalism in Australia, and identifying the people and organisations that have made a difference, constitutes an entire sub-genre in this form of writing. Mulligan and Hill, who have both taught in the School of Social Ecology at the University of Western Sydney, have taken a broad look at how ecological understanding has emerged in Australia in Ecological Pioneers. It constructs a social history that draws on the arts, sciences, politics and public life and identifies specific individuals who have made important contributions. Chapter four of the book looks specifically at land and identity in Australian literature, tracing a path through generations of writers leading from Paterson and Lawson’s different approaches to the notion of ‘the bush’, through Miles Franklin’s development of a new ‘Australianness’, Henry Handel Richardson’s exploration of belonging, Eleanor Dark’s reinterpretation of settle- ment in the Sydney region, May Gibbs’s �� ��� ����������� ������ �� ��������� ����� ��������� ��� ���� ���� ����� ��� ������� �� ��� �������� �� ������ ������� �� ���������� ��� ���� ��� ��������� ������� ���� �� ���� �� ���� ����� ��� ��� ����������� ����� ������ ���� ����� ��� ��� ������ ������� ���� ��� �� ��� ���� �� ����� ������� ������ ��� ��� ��� ��������� ��� ��� ����������� ��� ������ ��� ��������� ������ ��� ��� ���� �� �� ���� ������ ���� ����� ��� �������� ������ �������� ��� ����� ������� ��� �������� ������� ������� ���� ������� ������� ��� ����� ���������� �������� �� ��� ��������� ������� �� ��� �������� �� ������� ������ �� ���������� ��� ��� � ��������� � ����� ���� ������ � ��������������������� The experts’ choice Jesse Blackadder asked four prominent ecological writers and activists to nominate an environ- mental book that has made a strong impact on them, and why. MARTIN MULLIGAN The Future Eaters by Tim Flannery, because it’s a well-written, pioneering book. MARK TREDINNICK The Meadow by James Galvin, a beautiful description of one meadow in the Rocky Mountains. PENELOPE FIGGIS The 1972 Club of Rome report The Limits to Growth, an intellectually important exploration of the exponen- tial growth paradigm. STUART HILL The Challenge of Landscape, by PA Yeomans — the first time someone took a comprehensive eco-design approach to managed landscapes.