Exploration, empire and enviromental justice panel discussion

Meghan Johnson

Poets Elizabeth Bradfield and Sherwin Bitsu discussed the ethics and responsibilities of exploration as part of the 9th Annual Symposium on Wildness, Wilderness and the Enviromental Imagination.


The work of Elizabeth Bradfield and Sherwin Bitsu  are both very similar, but also quite different.


 Bradfield and Bitsu are both poets writing about the blur between two worlds, but both have many different aspects to their writing.


Bradfield is the author of two works Interpretive Work and Approaching Ice.


The focus of Bradfield’s is centered on polar exploration. The history, the wonders and dangers, physical and mental, encountered while endeavoring to reach this inhospitable region are all part of Bradfield’s poetic writing.


Bitsu has a different aspect within his poetry.


Bitsu writes about the tensions between the worlds of nature and man and the blur between the two.


The challenges Native Americans face is also a big focus in Bitsu’s poetry, exploring his own heritage. 


Geetha Iyer, an MFA student at Iowa State University’s Creative Writing & Environment program, led the discussion between Bradfield and Bitsu.


Bitsu and Bradfield were asked a multitude of questions concerning their poetry and the nature they explore and write about.


“I’m really curious with unmapping,” Said Bitsu.


When Bitsu used“unmapping” he explained that he meant it in a way of taking away the names and maps of humans.


He went on to explain that he enjoyed looking at pictures as a whole, not just the perfect center.


Bradfield explained her poetry as, “Poetry engaged with the natural world.”


She explained that she was interested in the resistance the land has from humans.


Bitsu is fascinated by the desert, while Bradfield is enthralled by Antarctica and the Arctic.


Even though they see the beauty of nature in different ways, they are both engrossed in nature and poetry.