Submissions for the first issue of 2020 to be published in March-April 2020 are open from 1 November to 27 December 2019. Poems and scholarly essays are invited in response to the following prompt from guest editor John Ryan. Please read the submissions guidelines carefully before you submit.
A novel area of science called plant cognition is showing us that plants are more than photosynthetic androids or the pleasant (read: agreeable) backdrops to human dramas. Green beings have the ability to communicate with each other and us; select from a range of life options then make decisions; and behave in a manner that suggests a complex interior world of emotions, memory, and feeling. Plants have their own kinds of sentience and intelligence, languages and thoughts. This contentious branch of biology has even pointed to the existence of intergenerational and selective forms of memory in which plants block recollections of traumatic experiences in order to ensure the positive adaptation of themselves and their future kin.
Notwithstanding these novel findings, many poets – from Rumi and Erasmus Darwin to Joy Harjo and Jack Davis – have known this intuitively about the botanical world all along. In this issue of Plumwood Mountain on the theme of plant poetics, I’m looking for poetry that offers fresh, unusual, and eccentric perspectives on the vegetal world. Try removing plants from the backgrounds of your poems. Place them front and centre as protagonists with their own mindfulness. If you want, allow the plants speak to the reader, other plants, other creatures, or themselves. They can be agitated or morbidly depressed, whimsical or tragically ironic (let’s just embrace anthropomorphism for once and see what happens). Of course, they don’t need to speak, but they can.
Plants are beautiful subjects for poems – yes, especially when in flower – but what else are they? Plants are visually appealing – for example, when the bark strips away from gum trees in the middle of summer in Australia – but how do they appeal through sound, touch, taste, smell, synaesthesia, and the spirit domain? What does the philodendron in your bedroom have to say about all this prattle?
John Charles Ryan is a poet, botanist, and environmental humanities scholar who holds appointments as Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of New England in Australia and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia. Ryan is a board member of the New England Writers’ Centre, and since 2017 has facilitated environmental poetry workshops at the New England Regional Art Museum. His published poetry includes Katoomba Incantation (2011), Two With Nature (2012, with botanical artist Ellen Hickman), New Perspectives on Tablelands Flora (2017, with botanical artist David Mackay), The Earth Decides (2017) and Primavariants (2017, with Glen Phillips). His creative work has been published by Fremantle Press and Margaret River Press, and in the journals Arc Poetry Magazine, Australian Geographic, Axon, Cordite Poetry Review, Griffith Review and Philosophy Activism Nature. Reviews of his work have appeared in Australian Poetry, Sydney Morning Herald and Weekend Australian. His recent non-fiction book, The Language of Plants, is a collaboration with natural scientists and philosophers.
In one email, send up to 3 poems in Times New Roman 12pt font, 1.5 spacing with each poem as a separate attachment. Each poem should be no longer than 50 lines or 2 pages (where your poem is in a form such that line length is not relevant). Poems should not be previously published, but simultaneous submissions are allowed. Please let the managing editor know if your poem is accepted elsewhere. Poems should be submitted as .docx, .doc, or .rtf files (send visual poems as both .pdf and .jpg.) to: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Essays should be between 3000 and 5000 words not including references and should follow MLA style. This link may prove more useful for MLA style: http://www.webster.edu/academic-resource-center/writingcenter/writing-tips/mla.html
Submissions are read anonymously. Do not include your name or contact details on the poems themselves, and please delete personal information from your electronic file properties. Include email contact details and a brief (50 word) bio in the body of your email. Also include your postcode if you are resident in Australia. This will not be published.
Plumwood Mountain also publishes book reviews and photo essays.
Book reviews should be 800 – 1000 words in length unless otherwise agreed. We do not accept unsolicited book reviews. See our Notes for Reviewers, also the list of available books. To read previous reviews visit the Book Reviews page. If you would like to review one of the books listed or would like to suggest a book to review, please contact the managing editor
Style for reviews: Times New Roman, left justified, 1.5 spacing, with endnotes, or author-date, and bibliography, following Chicago Manual of Style.
All reviews should be submitted as .docx, .doc, or .rtf files by email to
For multimedia, photographic essays, sound recordings and visual art, please first discuss the submission process and formatting with the managing editor at
From December 2017 Plumwood Mountain is no longer considering unsolicited scholarly essays or creative prose, unless a specific call for submissions invites these genres.
Copyright of poems, artwork, articles and reviews remains with the contributor.
We have been unsuccessful with our most recent funding application and as a result are unable to offer payment to contributors in coming issues, including the March 2020 issue. We regret this, and understand and respect that writers are often not in a position to offer their work on an unpaid basis.
Plumwood Mountain: An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics