Reading in the Dark

Introduction to Poetry and Environmental Justice

"[Poetry] forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, made first into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought."

—Audre Lorde, “Poetry Is Not a Luxury”

The world we were all born into was a mess, a beautiful mess, but a mess nonetheless. Regardless of how we entered this world, two mandates can be seen as constants in our lives, to honor the planet where we all live and to work together to find solutions to the problems we face. We believe one way we build solutions together is through the words we share and the stories we tell as a form of activism. In particular, the medium of poetry as a way to express our lived experiences and our radical imagination for a more just world.

The beauty of poetry is that it can come from a place of abundance. A place of introspection and digging deep into what makes us whatever it is we are. A place where we see the world, and the pain and joy that comes with it, and explore the multitude of ways we can build toward something better. This abundance can be aligned against the forces of extraction ruining our cultures and communities. The extractive economy comes from the extractive mindsetto pull resources from the ground for profit at whatever cost to the community, to pull the fruits of imaginative labor from the communities and cultures that fostered that imagination. Let’s not. Let’s explore where generosity and abundance can take us.

Our hope is that as you read these poems and the reflections on them by the contributing authors that you are filled with an abundance of what is possible when we take the time to see our world, not just for its agonizing flaws, but for the infinite possibilities that await us on the other side of a better future, one we all dream and fight for.


—Travis Nichols and Jonathan Butler, Greenpeace USA



Greenpeace USA is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future. To learn more about our work to build strong communities and a healthy planet visit: greenpeace.org/usa/take-action

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