“Time Has Caught on Fire:” Eco-Anxiety and Anger in Selected Australian Poetry


  • Anna Kowalcze-Pawlik University of Lodz, Faculty of International and Political Studies, Department of British and Commonwealth Studies https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7606-7127




emotions in Australian literature, solastalgia, metaphors of anger, Anthropocene, Australian wildfires, trauma


This essay discusses fire as a significant factor shaping Australian social and cultural life. It focuses first on the climate-change induced emotions such as eco-anxiety and anger that can be tied with the Australian landscape, and then moves on to a discussion of the presence and function of fire in selected contemporary Australian poetry. The reflection on the poetics of trauma in the second part of the essay is accompanied by a discussion of solastalgia connected with land dispossession as an experience of the First Nations expressed in the Aboriginal literature in English.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Anna Kowalcze-Pawlik, University of Lodz, Faculty of International and Political Studies, Department of British and Commonwealth Studies

Anna Kowalcze-Pawlik – PhD, Assistant Professor at the Department of the British and Commonwealth Studies at the Faculty of International and Political Studies, University of Lodz, where she teaches literary and cultural studies, serves as the academic secretary of International Studies: Interdisciplinary Political and Cultural Journal and works at the International Shakespeare Centre. She has received numerous grants and awards for her research on Shakespeare in Poland and cultural history of emotions (Polish Science Foundation, National Science Centre, National Centre for Research and Development, Ministry of Higher Education). Dr Kowalcze-Pawlik is a board member of the Polish Shakespeare Society, where he has been serving as the vice president since 2018. She is also an active member of BSA, SAA, ESRA, ISA, as well as RSA.


Affifi, R., Christie B. “Facing Loss: Pedagogy of Death.” Environmental Education Research 25.8 (2019): 1143–1157. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2018.1446511
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2018.1446511

Antadze, N. “Moral Outrage as the Emotional Response to Climate Injustice.” Environmental Justice 13.1 (2020): 21–26. https://doi.org/10.1089/env.2019.0038
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/env.2019.0038

Ashe, B., McAneney K.J., Pitman A.J. “Total Cost of Fire in Australia.” Journal of Risk Research 12.2 (2009): 121–136. https://doi.org/10.1080/13669870802648528
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13669870802648528

Askland, H.H., Bunn M. “Lived Experiences of Environmental Change: Solastalgia, Power and Place.” Emotion, Space and Society 27 (2018): 16–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emospa.2018.02.003
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emospa.2018.02.003

Birch, T. ‘“The Invisible Fire’: Indigenous Sovereignty, History and Responsibility.” Sovereign Subjects: Indigenous Sovereignty Matters. Ed. A. Moreton-Robinson. Sidney: Allen & Unwin, 2007: 105–117. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003117353-11
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003117353-11

Birns, N., McNeer R. Eds. A Companion to Australian Literature since 1900. Rochester, New York: Camden House, 2007.
Google Scholar

Bladow, K.A., Ladino J. “Toward an Affective Ecocriticism: Placing Feeling in the Anthropocene.” Affective Ecocriticism: Emotion, Embodiment, Environment. Eds. K.A. Bladow, J. Ladino. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2018: 1–22. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv75d0g8.5
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv75d0g8.5

Bray, M. du, Wutich A., Larson K.L., White D.D., Brewis A. du. “Anger and Sadness: Gendered Emotional Responses to Climate Threats in Four Island Nations.” Cross-Cultural Research 53.1 (2019): 58–86. https://doi.org/10.1177/1069397118759252
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1069397118759252

Brewster, A. “Australian Aboriginal Women’s Protest Poetry.” Claiming Space for Australian Women’s Writing. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2017: 245–259. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-50400-1_14
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-50400-1_14

Brewster, A. Giving This Country a Memory: Contemporary Aboriginal Voices of Australia. Cambria Press, 2015.
Google Scholar

Bureu, N. “The Poetry of Judith Wright: Inventing Australia, Inventing the Self.” Miscelánea: A Journal of English and American Studies 16 (1995): 67–83.
Google Scholar

Caddy, C. Burning Bright. Fremantle: Fremantle Press, 2010.
Google Scholar

Caddy, C. Esperance: New and Selected Poems. Fremantle: Fremantle Press, 2007.
Google Scholar

Charteris-Black, J. Fire Metaphors: Discourses of Awe and Authority. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016.
Google Scholar

Gibbs, A., “Contagious Feelings: Pauline Hanson and the Epidemiology of Affect.” Australian Humanities Review 24 (2001). Web. 14 December 2020. http://australianhumanitiesreview.org/2001/12/01/contagious-feelings-pauline-hanson-and-the-epidemiology-ofaffect/
Google Scholar

Gibson, K.E., et al. “The Mental Health Impacts of Climate Change: Findings from a Pacific Island Atoll Nation.” Journal of Anxiety Disorders 73 (2020): 102237. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2020.102237
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2020.102237

Harris, M. “The Aboriginal Voice in Australian poetry.” Antipodes 1 (1990): 4–8.
Google Scholar

Hodge, B. “Poetry and Politics in Oodgeroo: Transcending the Difference.” Australian Literary Studies 16.4 (1994): 57–76. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.8f9eade33c
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.20314/als.8f9eade33c

Horton, D. The Pure State of Nature. Sydney, NSW: Allen and Unwin, 2000.
Google Scholar

Kelen S.K. Earthly Delights. Canberra, ACT, Australia: Pandanus Books, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, 2006.
Google Scholar

Kinsella, J. Peripheral Light: Selected and New Poems. New York: Norton, 2004.
Google Scholar

Kleres, J., Wettergren Å. “Fear, Hope, Anger, and Guilt in Climate Activism.” Social Movement Studies 16.5 (2017): 507–519.
Google Scholar

Lakoff, G. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.
Google Scholar

Lakoff, G., Kövecses Z. “The Cognitive Model of Anger Inherent in American English.” Cultural Models in Language and Thought. Ed. D. Holland, N. Quinn. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1987, 195–222. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511607660.009
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511607660.009

Llewellyn, K. Crosshatched. Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1994.
Google Scholar

Marshall-Stoneking, B. Singing the Snake, Melbourne: Angus and Robertson, 1990.
Google Scholar

McMahon, E. “Judith Wright and the Temporality of Composition.” Australian Literary Studies 23(2) 2007: 15–26. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.eb8015ec5c
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.20314/als.eb8015ec5c

Middleton, J. et al. “Indigenous mental health in a changing climate: A systematic scoping review of the global literature.” Environmental Research Letters 15.5 (2020): 053001. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab68a9
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab68a9

Moore, G., Bristow T. “Alert, but Not Alarmed: Emotion, Place, and Anticipated Disaster in John Kinsella’s ‘Bushfire Approaching.”’ Philological Quarterly 93.3 (2014): 343.
Google Scholar

Moreton, R., Taylor A., Smith M.J. Rimfire: Poetry from Aboriginal Australia. Broome: Magabala Books, 2000.
Google Scholar

Noonuccal, O. The Dawn is at Hand: Selected Poems. London, New York: Marion Boyars, 1992.
Google Scholar

Noonuccal, O. “We Are going.” Indigenous Australian Voices: A Reader. Ed. J. Sabbioni, K. Schaffer, S. Smith, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1998, 147–148.
Google Scholar

Noonuccal, O. (Kath Walker). “The Past.” My People: A Kath Walker Collection. Milton: Jacaranda Wiley, 1981.
Google Scholar

O’Connor, M. Fire’ Stick Farming: Selected Poems 1972–1990. Sidney: Hale & Iremonger, 1990.
Google Scholar

Oliver-Smith, A. “Theorising Disasters: Nature, Power, and Culture”. Catastrophe and Culture: the Anthropology of Disaster. Ed. Hoffman, A. Oliver-Smith, Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, 2002, 23–47.
Google Scholar

Pihkala, P.. “Anxiety and the Ecological Crisis: An Analysis of Eco-anxiety and Climate Anxiety.” Sustainability 12.19 (2020): 7836. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197836
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197836

Pihkala, P. “Eco-anxiety and Environmental Education.” Sustainability 12.23 (2020): 10149. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122310149
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/su122310149

Perry, G.. Be Kind to Animals. Berrima: South Head Press, 1984.
Google Scholar

Pyne, S.J. Fire: Nature and Culture. Reaktion Books, 2013.
Google Scholar

Pyne, S.J. World Fire: the Culture of Fire on Earth. University of Washington Press, 1997.
Google Scholar

Roelvink, G., Zolkos M. “Climate Change as Experience of Affect.” Angelaki 16.4 (2011): 43–57. https://doi.org/10.1080/0969725X.2011.641344
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0969725X.2011.641344

Ryan, J.Ch. “No More Boomerang”: Environment and Technology in Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Poetry. Humanities 4 (2015): 938–957. https://doi.org/10.3390/h4040938
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/h4040938

Ryan, J.Ch. “That Seed Sets Time Ablaze.” Environmental Philosophy 14.2 (2017): 163–189. https://doi.org/10.5840/envirophil2016121343
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.5840/envirophil2016121343

Shapcott, T. Selected Poems. St Lucia: University of Queensland, 1989.
Google Scholar

Shoemaker, A. Black Words White Page: Aboriginal literature 1929–1988. Brisbane: UQP, 1989.
Google Scholar

Verlie, B. “‘Climatic-affective Atmospheres’: A Conceptual Tool for Affective Scholarship in a Changing Climate.” Emotion, Space and Society 33 (2019): 100623. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emospa.2019.100623
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emospa.2019.100623

Watson, I. “Settled and Unsettled Spaces: Are We Free to Roam?” Sovereign Subjects: Indigenous Sovereignty Matters. Ed. A. Moreton-Robinson. Sidney: Allen & Unwin, 2007, 15–32. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003117353-3
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003117353-3

Wright, J. Collected Poems, 1942–1970. Sydney: A&R, 1971.
Google Scholar




How to Cite

Kowalcze-Pawlik, A. (2022). “Time Has Caught on Fire:” Eco-Anxiety and Anger in Selected Australian Poetry. International Studies. Interdisciplinary Political and Cultural Journal, 26(2), 87–102. https://doi.org/10.18778/1641-4233.26.08