“The Desert Inside Us”

“The Desert Inside Us: Mary Austin’s California in Found Haiku” by Amy A. Whitcomb was created from Mary Austin’s Land of Little Rain (1903). To read, please click here.

About the poem and the process of composing it, Amy writes:

These five haiku poems found in Mary Austin’s essay “The Scavengers,” in her book The Land of Little Rain, are part of a much larger project of mine to revisit canonical American environmental writings and render them easy to read and engage with by today’s standards. Ecocritic and professor Ian Marshall has made interesting work of finding haiku in the writing of Henry David Thoreau in Walden by Haiku, which was the inspiration for my project. My contribution, as a millennial, longstanding haiku poet, and trained scientist, is this attempt to marry the aesthetics of immediacy, brevity, and juxtaposition from haiku with environmental concerns and the many varied voices of our environmental history. So far my project includes 440 haiku from over 60 celebrated authors and is collected in a manuscript-in-progress titled A Gentler Shovel. It’s been fun to use a known form to discover similarities and differences in environmentalism in the US over a century.