‘Healing, Belonging, Resistance, and Mutual Care’: Reading Indigenous Ecopoetics and Climate Narratives

Eric Magrane


Narratives of climate change place it alternately as an environmental justice issue, a national and global security issue, an apocalyptic threat to life on earth, an opportunity for social change, and more. In this article, I aim to bring critical geographic work on climate narratives into conversation with contemporary poetry, through close readings of specific poems. I argue that the work of contemporary poets, and in particular the work of Indigenous ecopoetics, is rich in poetic texts that offer imaginative practices for recalibrating climate change narratives. I look particularly to works by Craig Santos Perez, Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner, Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, Joy Harjo, and Linda Hogan. I approach the poems as both a critical geographer and as a poet, thinking through and with their form and content in relation to climate narratives, and in relation to a description of Indigenous ecopoetics by Perez. I meet these poems as stored energy, as actors themselves in a human and more-than-human collective. A close reading of the craft of creative texts—particularly to the level of the line in poetry—highlights the inextricable connection between form and content in how a poem acts and means in the world. As a non-Indigenous reader of texts by Indigenous poets, my goal is not to perform a ‘master’ reading or analysis of these texts, but rather to learn from the poems and in doing so attempt to decolonize my own thought, a process that is a constant practice.


climate narratives; geopoetics; Indigenous ecopoetics; environmental justice; mutual care; climate change; poetry

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