Professor, English/MFA and BFA Programs in Creative Writing (Poetry)
My poems often consider the built and naturally evolving world through the lens of an ecological conscience. Keeping in mind the idea of wildness and the dangerous myth of a once-pristine, “edenic” Earth, I have looked at how the earth has recovered from “natural” and human-caused disaster, recovering through change, not regression.
■ A new book of poems with a working title of Field Notes, in which each poem or section of one long poem explores a particular delimited space, whether agricultural hedgerow or the ecotone of open meadow and woods, a stream officially designated as wild, a partly reclaimed dump, or a wide tranche of flowing river. The sequence I envision now might even run the whole 426 miles of the Connecticut River, from its headwaters at Fourth Connecticut Lake on the Canadian border to its mouth at Long Island Sound. The Great Tidal River runs through New England‚ cities and forests as well as its cultural and historical landscape. It also runs through both my parents family histories and my own childhood. All that may or may not come into the new project. Poetry has a way of veering in its own direction, and I believe strongly in following its lead.
■ “The Narrow Road Through Fukushima” is a project I hope to begin during my next leave, which is still some time off. It would mean following the path of the great Japanese haibun poet Basho, walking and driving the same path he walked in 1689. That path would take me near if not through lands that were flooded during the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster in March 2011.
■ Atkinson, J. (2016). The Thinking Eye. Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press.
■ Atkinson, J. (2012). Canticle of the Night Path. Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press.
■ Atkinson, J. (2008). Drift Ice. Etruscan Press.
■ Atkinson, J. (2000). The Drowned City. Northeastern University Press.
■ Atkinson, J. (1990). The Dogwood Tree. University of Alabama Press.