'Planet in Peril' poet interview: Sam Love
In the run-up to the launch of the Planet in Peril anthology, we have a further introduction to one of the poets included in this unique collection. This week we would like to introduce you to, Sam Love, and congratulate him on his successful entry, 'Blueberry Mourning'. A sorrowful poem about the hidden and excessive global journey our food undertakes to end up on our plates and the resulting impact on our environment. We love the mixture of personal sadness with the inclusion of facts about a humble blueberry's journey.
Sam Love is a New Bern, NC writer. He has published numerous nonfiction articles in magazines including Smithsonian, and Washingtonian. He has two published novels, Snap Factor, and Electric Honey. He recently published a poetry book Cogitation (Unsolicited Press).
He is an accomplished poet and has been published in Kakalak, Slippery Elm, Voices on the Wind, The Lyricist, Flying South, Sleet and other publications. He has had six environmental poems in Eno published by Duke University. His work has also been featured on Poetry in Plain Sight posters throughout North Carolina.
Sam is also the author of an award-winning illustrated children’s book My Little Plastic Bag designed to share with children what happens to a plastic bag thrown out of a car window. There is also a Spanish edition Mi Bolsita Plastica.
You have previously written books for children on eco-themes in the past, what inspires you to pursue this topic in your writing?
I have been concerned about the environment since I read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring as a teenager. I also worked on the national staff of the first Earth Day in 1970. (Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world on the 22nd April to demonstrate support for environmental protection. 1970 was the first celebration and now in the present day nearly 200 countries are involved) After Earth Day I edited their Environmental Action magazine. I then freelanced articles about the environment in magazines like the Smithsonian. Over the years I have been involved in environmental organizations and I feel our generation has made a mess of the environment and destroyed the legacy we will leave our children. My most popular book is “My Little Plastic Bag” which is an award-winning children’s book I did with Samrae Duke, a wonderful illustrator. It traces the journey of a plastic bag thrown out of a car window until the plastic comes back to the family in the fish that they eat. It is now available in Spanish and English. You can check it out at www.mylittleplasticbag.com.
What inspired you to use a humble blueberry as your focal point of the poem?
I believe we are so out of touch with our food supply we have no idea the impact industrial farming is having on the environment so I often ask the questions “Where does it come from?” and “Where does it go?” I picked up a bottle of Fiji water recently and wrote a poem “Crazy Water” tracing what goes into the bottle and its carbon footprint. We ship plastic bottles from America to Fiji, fill them and ship them back to America.
Your poem 'Blueberry Mourning' seems to be a personal experience which then incorporates wider climate facts. What research/process did you go through when writing the poem?
I started by reading the label on the package and noticed the blueberries were a product of Chile. I then used the internet to see where blueberries are grown in Chile and how many miles they travel by plane to Florida for loading onto trucks for distribution on the East Coast. In my area near the coast of North Carolina farmers grow blueberries and when they are in season they only move a few miles to our farmer’s market. I called it “Mourning” because it is sad. I am amazed you can package blueberries in Chile and move them to a supermarket in North Carolina and sell them for $4.50 per container.
What drew you to submitting to the Planet in Peril anthology?
I had published some poems with Sophie in Purple Breakfast Review and she suggested I send some environmental poems to Fly on the Wall Press which is very interested in educating people on this subject. Just happened to see your posting for material for the book.
Pre-orders now open: https://www.flyonthewallpoetry.co.uk/shop/Pre-order-Planet-in-Peril-p140491805
What are your feelings on the current climate crisis campaign?
It is a critically important issue, but I am concerned it overshadows other issues like the chemicals in the environment and the horrible amount of plastic we release into the oceans. In the 1970s we had an ecology symbol which was based on the Greek word for home “oikos’. You see the peace symbol everywhere but the ecology symbol has virtually disappeared so naturally I’ve had a poem published on why we should bring back the ecology symbol. The climate crisis really doesn’t have a symbol like the peace movement did.
Are you working on any other projects at present or in the near future?
I have had a number of environmental poems published and I am pulling together all of my environmentally themed poems into a manuscript which I am calling “Earth Resonance” based on how the conch shell can create a resonance that amplifies small sounds. I see it as a metaphor for what poets can do to amplify their messages to reprogram the culture and heal the planet. We don’t need to “save the planet” because the planet has gone through other extinctions and it will take care of itself, but it may do it with fewer humans and less biodiversity.
Thank you for creating the wonderful book “Planet in Peril”.
And thank you Sam Love for contributing and trusting your precious poem to our anthology and assisting us in our campaign to raise awareness about the eco-issues our planet is facing.
Check out Sam's reading from his new book Cogitation: http://bit.ly/2rYCo60
Pr-orders for the 'Planet in Peril' anthology are now open: https://www.flyonthewallpoetry.co.uk/shop/Pre-order-Planet-in-Peril-p140491805