'' You Are Here : Poetry in the Natural World '' is tinged with '' solastalgia, '' says U.S. poet laureate and editor of the volume : '' the distress caused by environmental change.''  That's not the same as melancholy.

.-  What books are on your night stand?

My night stand doesn't speak to me anymore. That's because, here's the truth : I don't read at night. The night stand is where the books go to die. I think that I'll read something before bed and then I immediately fall asleep, so the real question is, what books are on my desk?

Right now that's '' Eve '' by Cat Bohannon; '' Martyr!'' by Kaveh Akbar; Mosa Abu Toha's '' Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear''; '' You Can Be The Last Leaf,'' by Maya Aby AI-Hayyat; and an advance copy of '' The Backyard Bird Chronicles,'' by Amy Tan.

.-  Are you able to write outside, in nature, or only at a desk?

I love writing outside. When I'm home in Kentucky, I write on my screened-in porch, that is if it's warm enough. I love to fill the feeder and watch the birds in between writing lines of poems.

Through the years, I've trained myself to write anywhere. Planes, hotel rooms - anywhere, really.  Though it helps if there is silence. Or sounds of nature.

.-  How did you decide whom to commission for the new anthology?

I chose the poets that I knew had recently been working in interesting ways with the subject of nature. I feel so lucky with the final collection. It's even more powerful than I imagined.

.-  What's the last book that made you cry?

'' Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts,'' by Crystal Wilkinson is a cookbook and a memoir combined that celebrates generations of Black women in Appalachia. Wilkinson always has a way of saying it true and making me weep.

.-  Do you count any books as guilty pleasures?

Oh yes, Anne Rice was great guilty pleasure of mine. All things vampires, and witches, anything with magic.

What a gift those books were for me as a teenager. In some ways they were as foundational as some of the colonial books I read in school.

.-  What's the most interesting thing that you learned from a poem in this volume?

One wonderful thing I learned about was from Aimee Nezhukumatathil's poem, ''Helipholia' : Rhubarb makes a wild popping or cracking noise when it grows in the dark. Now I have seen videos of this occurrence and I love it. We have yet to truly understand the language of the plants.

.-  Did any of the poems make you want to travel to their settings?

Many : Victoria Chang's poems set in Alaska, for example, and the desert landscape poems by Eduardo C Corral and Rigoberto Gonzalez. 

But for the most part the poems make me want to pay attention to wherever I am right now, to look deeply at what's around me, and not miss it. 

The World Students Society thanks The New York Times.


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