Street Talks Poetry and Environmentalism

On Thursday, March 3, Laura-Gray Street, a visitor to artist house, spoke to St. Mary’s students and faculty with poetry about love, family, and the environment in Daugherty-Palmer Commons (DPC).

Professing her love of St. Mary’s pond and shoreline management, Street told students that her use of “scattervision”  when writing poetry was augmented by the St. Mary’s atmosphere.

She began her reading with poems titled “Meet Me at the Speed of Light,” “Vertigo,” “First Lessons of Bee Keeping,” and “Ring Necks.”

“Meet me” entwined the science of genes and natural processes with the search for knowledge and the meaning of soul.

“Vertigo” carried undertones of parenting and its successes; “First Lessons” dealt with the tantric nature of change and youth/growing-up; and “Ring Necks” focused on using the poetry of “other.”

Street’s poetry masterfully mixed scientific fact with artistic exploration. Junior Gursharan Kaur Bawa said her poetry was “really intriguing…[by] mixing science with art.”

Street mentioned that her poetry is driven by, among other things, the examination of human & industrial waste problems versus the beauty and preservation of nature.

Senior Anina Tardif-Douglin said her most pervasive theme was “definitely nature…kind of a fear of the diminishment of nature,” and that “she uses such scientific language and…she makes it sound evocative.”

Street continued her reading with a story of how she hates using syntactic expletives in her poetry but worked hard to write a poem using them as the central poetic device.

She also spoke of her writings of dark poetry which focused on social ills. She wrote on topics such as animal cruelty, war, and childhood delinquency.

Street then read a poem satirizing the existence of a tank stuck in a river for nearly 20 years. She later commented that her love for the environment, being the most foundational theme of her writing, is why she wrote this and many of her other poems.

Senior Sasha Todak said “her poetry reveals environmental issues that become accessible to any person.”

Street concluded her reading with two “ekphrastic poems”: “On Michael Stringer’s Microphotograph: Crain Fly,” and “Goya’s Dog.”

‘Crain fly’ focused on the beauty and complexity of all species, even the smallest and ‘Goya’s Dog’ was more personal with tales of Street’s parents, her family dog, and the power of symmetry in the universe.

Todak said, “It wasn’t just a poetry reading, it was a literary and scientific performance.”


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