Massimo D'Arcangelo is an Italian ecopoet and editor of literary magazines, who lives in the Nature Reserve of Alto Merse in Tuscany. He co-authored ‘Intatto. Ecopoesia /Intact. Ecopoetry’ (La Vita Felice, 2017) with Anne Elvey and Helen Moore, and ‘Voce del verso animale. Poesie antispeciste per ragazze e ragazzi’ (Pietre Vive, 2023) with Teodora Mastrototaro. He is also the editor of the first Italian edition of John Muir’s ‘Stickeen. Story of a Dog’ (La Vita Felice, 2022). His poems are often inspired by his personal experiences in the nature reserve, where he observes and interacts with the wildlife and the landscape, and his work invites us to rediscover our nature connection. He also uses poetic language to call out ecological and social problems caused by human greed, consumerism, and indifference. He is one of the most significant pioneers and representatives of ecopoetry in Italy.
Helen Moore is a British ecopoet, socially engaged artist, writer, and Nature connector. She has published three ecopoetry collections, Hedge Fund, And Other Living Margins (Shearsman Books, 2012), ECOZOA (Permanent Publications, 2015), acclaimed by the Australian poet John Kinsella as ‘a milestone in the journey of ecopoetics’, and The Mother Country (Awen Publications, 2019) exploring aspects of British colonial history. INTATTO. INTACT: Ecopoesia. Ecopoetry, a bilingual Italian-English work, co-authored with Massimo D'Arcangelo (Italy) and Anne Elvey (Australia), was published by La Vita Felice in 2017. Helen's work has been funded by the Royal Literary Fund, the Society of Authors, and Arts Council England, and has been nominated for the Forward and Pushcart Prizes. In 2021 Helen gave a keynote lecture on ecopoetry and landscape at PoesiaEuropa in Italy, and collaborated with Cape Farewell in Dorset on RiverRun, a cross arts-science project examining pollution in Poole Bay. Helen is currently completing a memoir about her more-than-human teachers and is an editor at ECOPOETIKON.
Since the start of the millennium, I’ve been based in Tuscany, a region of central Italy, where I live in a small brick cottage within the Alto Merse Nature Reserve, an inpenetrable hilly area of 2,000 hectares, entirely wooded and sparsely inhabited, through which the River Merse flows. The process of industrialization caused many farmhouses in the area to be abandoned, and they soon became uninhabitable ruins, which, due to the high estimated costs of restoration, are unmarketable. But the ecological crisis that has most affected the area in recent decades was caused by the pollution of water and land resources, through the unregulated discharge of waste and toxic substances into the river and the protected area. I specifically draw attention to the ecological crisis event which, in the spring of 2001, struck the Alto Merse Reserve, seriously endangering the area’s natural heritage. The sudden flooding of the Campiano mine, which was abandoned in 1996, caused illegally stored mining mud to spill into the river and into the surrounding aquifers. Ashes of pyrite, heavy metals, iron, cadmium became sedimented in the river bed, dangerously altering the quality of the water, which turned reddish and lifeless. River water has always been a great resource for the region. Used to irrigate olive groves, vineyards, vegetable gardens, sunflower and corn crops, it is of primary importance for the various species of fish, amphibians and wild animals that inhabit the Nature Reserve. Since this crisis, both the local population and the state have undertaken an urgent restoration programme. To date, the microbiological parameters of the Merse water no longer show abnormal variations, and so deserve their bathing quality designation. The ongoing protection of the region is monitored, with interventions that provide people with a safe place to live, and that restore within their habitat a free and safe existence to the native fauna, which includes rare and endangered species. State and private resources aim to protect, conserve and promote the biodiversity and territorial identity of the place, through: adequate control over hunting and all the human activities occurring within the protected area; educational programmes (nature excursions, environmental training courses); and the creation of natural history and ethnological museums (Museum of the Forest, Orgia, Museum of Biodiversity, Monticiano). This attention to the environment has supported local people to develop their ecological consciousness, which is based on a model of eco-sustainable living. There is community-wide hope, placed in the hands of the youngest generations, that in future human actions will never again harm the areas which our ancestors carefully stewarded for so long. This is a necessary step, which we're all called to take, to safeguard the well-being of what today seems to be the only home capable of hosting us.