I’m pleased to announce the release of my chapbook, “Holcocene.” You can buy copies from Kelsay Books on Amazon — my cut of the royalties will be donated to the environmental non-profit MN350, whose goal is to bring the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere back to climate-safe levels.
I also want to include a shortened version of the foreword that introduces the collection, and explains the concept driving it:
The word ‘Holcocene’ is a neologism that comes from the Ancient Greek ‘holkos,’ which is a machine designed to haul landlocked ships to water, and ‘kainos,’ meaning ‘new’ – as in, ‘new era.’ When I asked a friend how I would say ‘age of devices’ in Ancient Greek, ‘Holcocene’ was her third suggestion, and I was immediately drawn to it due to its sonic similarity to the term ‘Holocene,’ which refers to the epoch that has contained all of human history up to this point. As many readers are aware, the consensus among the scholarly establishment is that we are now firmly lodged within a new epoch: the Anthropocene. The Age of Man, in which our intervention has sown the seeds of a partially manmade climate – a climate which, unfortunately, does not project to be particularly hospitable to its progenitors. The poems in this collection investigate what might happen if the Anthropocene runs its course unchecked, until the devices fashioned by mankind are all that remain of it. In the absence of the human, I want to examine the almost-human, the result of the injection of human directives into non-human objects. In light of such a curiosity, I have structured these poems so that they chronicle the inner workings, impressions and social life of a single machine as it ruminates on the difficulties that it faces over the course of its journey.
‘Holkos’ suggests the predetermined motion of a device toward a body of water. The machines in this cycle of poems are similarly propelled toward the ocean in an instinctual urge that has been coded into them by their human creators. Indeed, the ocean’s role here is reminiscent of the way in which the vaunted “Land of Milk and Honey” represented salvation to the beleaguered Israelites of Exodus and Numbers. Canaan, to them, was a place to join with their creator, and, moreover, a place to rest after generations of hardship. Just as the Israelites’ motion through the desert was preordained by the directive of their god, so too is the machines’ progress subject to human whims, even after the passing of the human.