New Welsh Review

Field Trips In The Anthropocene

AC Bevan

Daniel Snipe admires a vital addition to a growing eco-centric body of poetry, in this latest release from the award winning Rack Press

PUBLISHED ON: 03/06/20

CATEGORY: Reviews

TAGS: Science, environment, nature

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AC Bevan’s Field Trips in the Anthropocene is the poet’s fifth collection and possibly his most relevant. In the ongoing battle against global warming, Bevan has placed himself firmly among the field of literary responses to the crisis. Published by Rack Press, FTINA contains poems tackling a wide range of current issues. Inhabiting a world of superfast advancement in the realms of technology, politics and nature, Bevan’s poetry freezes you in the moment and allows you to reflect on the issues at hand.

Bevan reinforces a key theme throughout the poetry here: the idea of humans as a force in opposition to the natural world. Overpopulation, mass production, food waste and the spreading of misinformation are all equally resonant in Bevan’s poetics. Bevan suggests that humans are the driving factor in the acceleration of global warming, harkening back to the title of this collection. The Anthropocene has come to be exceedingly relevant in contemporary poetry. With new natural disasters appearing in our news more frequently, humans disregard for nature is a topic that needs to be addressed in all forms of art.

Bevan also asks us to reflect on how we arrived at this point in time. In ‘This Week in History’, Bevan examines the evolution of Homo sapiens, using clever stanza structure to discuss human progress. The poem follows the days of the week to illustrates the life cycle of our species. However, Bevan leaves out Sunday. On Saturday, he highlights the rapid progress we are making with technology, possibly to the point where we are now the greatest threat to our own species.

 

then split the atom                                                                                                                                              & started again from the bottom.

 

Bevan’s final poem the collection’s themes to future scenarios. In ‘S.E.T.I’, Bevan discusses the idea of humans eventually colonising Mars, exploring the possibility that we may have learnt from our past mistakes. Unfortunately, the poem does not deliver a message of hope, instead suggesting a bleak outcome of our supposed ‘progress’.

 

terraforming the landscape,                                                                                                                          we’ll introduce animals &                                                                                                                           ultimately the first humans- & in time

enough weapons of mass destruction                                                                                                               to blow it to kingdom come.

 

A haunting, yet potentially honest, image to leave the reader on.

Now more than ever eco-centric works of literature are needed in order to sway opinion before the outcome of this crises brings us to a critical point. A.C. Bevan is yet another poet bringing a forceful discussion of climate change to the table, indicting humans as the overriding factor in the world’s future demise. Yet there is a small amount of hope in Bevan’s poetics. These poems serve as warnings and should be taken as such.

 

Daniel Snipe was this spring’s Swansea Digital Correspondent in a new partnership with Swansea University’ College of Arts & Humanities.