The natural world teaches us many lessons if we’re willing to listen: patience, growth, change, and—perhaps most of all—the beauty in diversity.
For this reason, it’s no wonder poets with marginalized identities feel drawn to exploring natural themes in their writing. To celebrate pride month this June, we’re featuring a few of the many nature poems written by LGBTQIA+ poets.
The iconic Mary Oliver, an openly gay poet as well as a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Awards winner, passed away in 2019. Her legacy leaves behind a body of work that creatively and poignantly pulls inspiration from the natural world. In “Wild Geese,” powerful themes of acceptance and belonging are evident:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
The Moon is Trans
Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, a trans poet, is the author of two poetry books, There Should Be Flowers and I’m alive. It hurts. I love it. In “The Moon is Trans,” Espinoza passionately proclaims that the moon is trans, illustrating the innate beauty of transness:
The moon is trans.
From this moment forward, the moon is trans.
You don’t get to write about the moon anymore unless you respect that.
You don’t get to talk to the moon anymore unless you use her correct pronouns.
You don’t get to send men to the moon anymore unless their job is
to bow down before her and apologize for the sins of the earth.
She is waiting for you, pulling at you softly,
telling you to shut the fuck up already please.
The moon is often described as dead, though she is very much alive.
The moon has not known the feeling of not wanting to be dead
for any extended period of time
in all of her existence, but
she is not delicate and she is not weak.
She is constantly moving away from you the only way she can.
She never turns her face from you because of what you might do.
She will outlive everything you know.
(Joshua Jennifer Espinoza via PEN America)
Queer Nature: A Poetry Anthology
For even more nature poems written by LGBTQIA+ poets, consider reading Queer Nature: A Poetry Anthology edited by poet Michael Walsh. According to Autumn Press House, the anthology “amplifies and centers LGBTQIA+ voices and perspectives in a collection of contemporary nature poetry. Showcasing over two hundred queer writers from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, Queer Nature offers a new context for and expands upon the canon of nature poetry while also offering new lenses through which to view queerness and the natural world.”