Persephone in Washington


One of the oddest things about the environmental humanities, in my humble opinion, is that they have stayed resolutely away from (a) poetry and (b) religion. I find this odd because both poetry and religion have a lot to say about the human-cosmos relationship, what it has been like, and what it should be like.

As the beginning of a remedy to this state of affairs, I offer a link to “Persephone in Washington,” a sonnet sequence by Sarah Avery about the queen of an underworld who, like any good fertility goddess, rises in the spring–in Washington, DC–after gaining the help of Inanna, Queen of Heaven, and Aretha, Queen of Soul. In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that Sarah is my friend, but that doesn’t mean the sonnets are no good, it means I have excellent taste.

Speaking as a teacher of poetry, I think these sonnets are eminently teachable because, unlike most sonnets students are made to read, these have contemporary cultural references and a syntactic order that mirrors ordinary speech. So, the language will be familiar, even if the content is a bit unsettling. The perfect gift for the poetry-loving goth-grrls among us.


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