Kenneth White and Geopoetics

The concept of geopoetics was originated by Kenneth White in 1979 when he was walking along the north bank of the St Lawrence River into Labrador. However, it developed out of ideas he had been working at earlier in his life such as ‘white world’ and ‘biocosmopoetics’. The essay Into the White World which he wrote in 1967 and which was published in On Scottish Ground in 1998 outlined many of the elements of what was to become geopoetics.

Various people had previously expressed some elements of this outlook such as shamans, Celtic monks who wrote nature poetry and native Americans like Black Elk, but it was Kenneth White who brought it all together in geopoetics and took it much further by proposing it as a central concept for our time by which humanity should seek to live.

His upbringing in Fairlie on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland equipped him for this role and gave him a love of the shore, the woods, hills and moors and their wildlife which has never left him. His travels in many parts of the world and his researches into other cultures enriched his understanding and enabled him to synthesise and go much deeper into ideas and practices which until then had been separate and only partially developed.

The accompanying short biography and bibliographies of Kenneth White outline the main events in his life and the books he has written. His essay books, poetry and, prose are essential reading to deepen your understanding of geopoetics and to encourage you to consider how you might apply it creatively in your own life. He is an outstanding teacher as well as a great poet and thinker and has the ability to inspire others to try to see and ‘say the world anew’ as he says in the poem Crow Meditation Text.