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As Louisiana’s poet laureate, Darrell Bourque might be expected to have written something about the spill, but he’s still too overwhelmed.

“I don’t know how yet to translate that into the language of a poem,” the 68-year-old writer said from the family farm where he grew up near Opelousas in rural St. Landry Parish.

To a large extent, Mr. Bourque’s poetry is grounded in his belief that humans are just extensions of the landscape.

“One of the great lies and the great myths we’ve told ourselves is that there’s a division between the natural world and the human world,” he says. “And I think we’re as much an extension of the natural world as the plankton and the pelican.”

As sympathetic as he is to the plight of fishermen, oil workers and others who are hurting, Mr. Bourque has tired of hearing people talk about losing their “way of life.” As far as he is concerned, it’s that “way of life” that brought the Gulf to the edge of the abyss.

Vicki Smith reported from Hopedale, La.; Associated Press writer Holbrook Mohr reported from Port Sulphur, La.