Welcome to the Anthropocene
Alice Major observes the comedy and the tragedy of this human-dominated moment on Earth. Major's most persistent question—"Where do we fit in the universe?"—is made more urgent by the ecological calamity of human-driven climate change. Her poetry leads us to question human hierarchies, loyalties, and consciousness, and challenges us to find some humility in our overblown sense of our cosmic significance.
Now, welcome to the Anthropocene
you battered, tilting globe. Still you gleam,
a blue pearl on the necklace of the planets.
This home. Clouds, oceans, life forms span it
from pole to pole, within a peel of air
as thin as lace lapped round an apple. Fair
and fragile bounded sphere, yet strangely tough—
this world that life could never love enough.
And yet its loving-care has been entrusted
to a feckless species, more invested
in the partial, while the total goes unnoticed.
— from "Welcome to the Anthropocene"
About the Author
# 1 on Edmonton Fiction Bestsellers list, March 11, 2018
# 10 on Edmonton Fiction Bestsellers list, March 18, 2018
"Alice Major begins "Welcome to the Anthropocene" by considering all the ways humans have meddled with the environment... The traditional and experimental forms which appear throughout the book reinforce Major's argument...and hint at unseen evolutionary forces at work; rhyming couplets which make up the first poem call to mind the 'base pairs' of DNA, even as they echo Pope's 'An Essay on Man.'... She excels at depicting situations when humans are themselves little more than kind animals, unusually intelligent but never quite intelligent enough, and often confounded by their own place in the ecosphere.—Patrick O'Reilly, Maisonneuve, Winter 2017
"Poets work like naturalists or scientists. What they do is based on what has gone before. Alexander Pope wrote Essay on Man, one of the most quoted poems in the English language, in the 18th century This collection is written in Alberta, in the 21st century. Its title poem, "Welcome to the Anthropocene", has the same metre and rhyme scheme, and uses Pope's poem as a platform for a survey of the world the poet sees. There are a number of other fine poems, of varying lengths, touching a lot of subjects, with influences that seem to range from Gerard Manley Hopkins to a Peterson Field Guide. The poems are serious, but the reader can expect to have fun reading them." [Full review at http://canadianfieldnaturalist.ca/index.php/cfn/article/view/2087/1968]—Murray Citron, The Canadian Field-Naturalist, vol. 131, no.4
"There are poems about the workaday world, a poem written in the voice of a mouse, a poem about missing the Muse's house call because the poet—damn hygiene!—was in the shower."—Bruce Whiteman
"Alice Major is that rarest of beings, a poet whose imagination is fired by science and mathematics.... [W]ith her broad range of sympathies and wide-ranging curiosity we have a sense of inclusiveness rare in contemporary poetry (which often prefers to live in a world of its own), and a comprehensive vision not afraid of dealing with public issues.... This is poetry with a brain as well as a heart—it not only makes us feel but also succeeds in making us think." [Full review at http://londongrip.co.uk/2018/08/london-grip-poetry-review-alice-major/]—Roger Caldwell, London Grip Poetry Review
"Welcome to the Anthropocene is a virtuosic, challenging book of poetry by Alice Major. This collection is by turns a lament, a dirge and a celebration of being on earth in this human-dominated moment.... It is a compelling book of tightly wrought, deeply skilled verse that contains within it the seeds of hope.... Major's ecologically minded poems demonstrate anew why poetry and art play leading roles in helping us to conceive of better times that are yet to come."—Kit Dobson, Alberta Views
"...Alice Major writes an ambitious work that addresses many of the issues besetting our times...[T]he collection is an intelligent work that presents and argues and wins us over in stunning metaphors and catchy measures reinforced by couplets..." [Full review at https://scholars.wlu.ca/thegoose/vol17/iss1/24]—Gillian Harding-Russell, The Goose
"In Welcome to the Anthropocene, Major is not offering a guide to action so much as a guide to broadening the problem beyond the sometimes pat suggestions of political and environmental activists.... What Major adds here is the duality of the Anthropocene: our despair in the face of it and the fact that whether we avoid, protest, reform, or embrace this new world, we are still in it." [Full review at https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/great-chain-alice-majors-welcome-anthropocene/#!]—Hannah Rogers, LA Review of Books
"[A] confrontational yet compassionate collection of 57 poems that cut through the fluff of everyday life.... It takes courage to criticize this human-dominated planet, and compassion to remain accepting of humanity despite our collective faults. In place of answers to the questions that drive Major's poetry, she offers insight—and the insights she uncovers make Welcome to the Anthropocene deeply engaging, and wholly human."—Megan Nega, Freefall Magazine
"...(the book's title [Welcome to the Anthropocene] is a reference to the current geologic age, the one in which human activity is the dominant influence on the Earth's physical environment). [Alice Major's] work, art that reckons with science, is part of a long tradition."—Megan Garber, The Atlantic
"This wide-ranging and beautiful collection combines scientific knowledge of evolution, DNA, and mathematical formulas with a caring attention to the wondrous connections between human and non-human life." Canadian Literature, October 5, 2018 [Full review at http://canlit.ca/article/environmental-metamorphoses]—Kait Pinder
"Each section contains smaller poems on a wide variety of topics––like local ecology, office life, mathematics, community, the domestic sphere, time, cognitive illusions, and more. Though varied in subject, so many of these poems bring us back to the problem of being human; that is, we place ourselves at the centre and see the world around us through a distorted lens."—Jenny Haysom
"Welcome to the Anthropocene is a real achievement.... [These] poems are intelligent, philosophically and ethically searching, formally engaging, and dappled with precise information and detail..."—Edward A. Dougherty
"Welcome to the Anthropocene is a poet's take on the climate crisis, which blends math and science with poetry to produce a beautiful and wondrous examination of the natural world and humanity's devastating impact on it. While such an undertaking could easily be defeatist, Major's collection retains a sense of hope and genuine love for humanity that makes her poetry a refreshing read in an era plagued by eco-anxiety and negative climate news."—Katherine DeCoste
# 8 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Poetry, December 01, 2019
"Major is a keen observer of the river and natural environment around her hometown of Edmonton and the way it is changing as a result of climate disruption. She has the dual ability to engage us in this particular locale as well as transport us to a universal place where we can examine the bigger questions of our time..." [Full article at https://artistsandclimatechange.com/2020/02/25/welcome-to-the-anthropocene/]—Susan Hoffman Fishman, Artists and Climate Change
# 8 on Edmonton Poetry Bestsellers list, February 14, 2021
Other Titles by Alice Major
Other Titles from Robert Kroetsch Series
Other Titles in POETRY / Canadian / General