Women in the Outdoors Month: Leah Green’s eco-poetry talk

Anneliese Schneider

Award winning poet and professor Leah Green participated in the Outing Club’s Women in the Outdoors Month by sharing her poetry virtually on March 19.

Green, who teaches English and environmental studies at Washington and Lee, drew on the inspiration of the natural world in her poetry collection, “The More Extravagant Feast.” The collection won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets last year. 

“I’m so excited to celebrate women’s history month in this way,” said Green. “This is a good way to bring it into the living reality.” 

In reading from her collection, Green discussed how the Buddhist philosophy woven into some of her poems has also helped her cope with the pandemic. 

“To me, that opens up really deep lessons about non-duality, which has been really helpful to me in the pandemic,” she said. “

Green said it is tempting to classify something as either good or bad, especially during the pandemic. 

“Many Buddhist thinkers would say there’s no such thing, there’s no good that doesn’t contain bad, there’s no bad that doesn’t contain good,” she said. “Of course, it’s that human, narrative-making mind that we have that always wants to know if it’s good or bad.”

But Green said she isn’t shying away from this narrative. 

“As a poet, as a writer, I think it’s a beautiful thing that we do, making stories. But it’s also beautiful to recognize that we’re doing it, that nature’s not doing it, reality isn’t doing it,” she said. 

Beth Ann Townsend, ‘21, was one of the leaders of the event.

“The Outing Club’s Women in the Outdoors Month has sought to highlight and empower female leaders in our community while encouraging participation in the natural world,” Townsend said. “It can be difficult to host interactive events online, but Professor Green’s gentle voice and beautiful words really connected the twenty-five of us in the call.”

The reading was one of the only talks during the Women in the Outdoors Month, which largely consisted of outdoor events.

“Professor Green’s eco poetry reading was a fun, unique addition to the WOM programming,” said Townsend. “I’m so grateful we have such inspiring women right here at W&L.”