Landscape, personal place

I’ve been enjoying Rachel Solnit’s prose lately, most recently her book As Eve Said to the Serpent, some of which derives from art criticism but which is also the kind of multidisciplinary approach to observing the relationships between things that intrigues me. What she notices about the environment, about art that engages with or alters place/landscape, and about environmentalists themselves piques my own inquisitiveness and gets me asking questions I might not otherwise have come up with. Place, particularly the personal “environment” that shelters, inspires, or calms me, is something I consider frequently.


[one of my happy places]

Perhaps that’s because I am by nature an introvert; perhaps it has to do with being a poet. The personal aesthetics of place–a room or a landscape–exert significant effects upon my frame of mind and mode of thinking.

Why is that?

Maybe there is an evolutionary reason for the need to find a favorite spot, a hide-away, a happy place. We may still possess that ancient urge for security, the cave or treehouse we can use to hide from predators or from the weather.

And landscape itself can be a secret place, or a sacred place. A wide expanse of openness means it is easier to observe predators prowling in the distance, giving the prey animal time to flee. Or to explore, to survey, to run embracing what is far away and only imaginable.


Neolithic stone circle, Castlerigg, Cumbria, UK


C.D. Wright: “What landscape is: not a closed space, not in fact capable of closure. With each survey the corners shift. Distance is the goal; groping the means.”

One comment on “Landscape, personal place

  1. Gordon says:

    Synchronicity. I was thinking about your poems and posts yesterday. I may have been aware, consciously or not, of a new bloom or the song of some bird in the backyard. For the most part, that is enough for me. I don’t usually have the urge to name the tree, the bush, the bird… and, here’s the point: you do. You’re a regular Eve, naming things in your Eden. In that vein, it’s one of the human imperatives. So, they say, is Art. When you name things, claiming your own space in the universe, I think it’s the sound of the words, the rhythms and the feelings evoked or shared that make the work both personal and Universal. So, thanks.
    I’m so glad that you had a good visit in Scotland and that all of you are well. Glad your Ma’s home. The papers will be graded. How about A- to A+ as your curve. Why drive the poor dears crazy?
    Enough for now. Love- Gordon

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