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Anthropocene Poetics

Deep Time, Sacrifice Zones, and Extinction

2019
Author:

David Farrier

Anthropocene Poetics

How poetry can help us think about and live in the Anthropocene by reframing our intimate relationship with geological time

Looking at a diverse array of lyric and avant-garde poetry from three interrelated perspectives, David Farrier rethinks the environmental humanities from a literary critical perspective. Anthropocene Poetics puts a concern with deep time at the center, defining a new poetics for thinking through humanity’s role as geological agents, the devastation caused by resource extraction, and the looming extinction crisis.

The Anthropocene spells trouble: not only with respect to the global environmental changes, largely for the worse, to which it refers; but also in terms of the troublesome nature of the word itself. David Farrier’s brilliant elucidation of a multi-faceted ‘Anthropocene poetics’ delves into these troubles with great philosophical, scientific, social-ecological and aesthetic discernment. Whilst acknowledging the limited efficacy of poetry in response to the immense challenges of our perilous times, his carefully contextualized close readings of exemplary texts do indeed demonstrate how literature, and other art forms, can ‘help to frame the ground on which we stand as we consider which way to turn.’ This is, moreover, not only a work about poetry: it is also an exquisitely poetic work of scholarship.

Catherine Rigby, Bath Spa University, author of Dancing with Disaster*

The Anthropocene describes how humanity has radically intruded into deep time, the vast timescales that shape the Earth system and all life-forms that it supports. The challenge it poses—how to live in our present moment alongside deep pasts and futures—brings into sharp focus the importance of grasping the nature of our intimate relationship with geological time. In Anthropocene Poetics, David Farrier shows how contemporary poetry by Elizabeth Bishop, Seamus Heaney, Evelyn Reilly, and Christian Bök, among others, provides us with frameworks for thinking about this uncanny sense of time.

Looking at a diverse array of lyric and avant-garde poetry from three interrelated perspectives—the Anthropocene and the “material turn” in environmental philosophy; the Plantationocene and the role of global capitalism in environmental crisis; and the emergence of multispecies ethics and extinction studies—Farrier rethinks the environmental humanities from a literary critical perspective. Anthropocene Poetics puts a concern with deep time at the center, defining a new poetics for thinking through humanity’s role as geological agents, the devastation caused by resource extraction, and the looming extinction crisis.

Anthropocene Poetics

David Farrier is senior lecturer in modern and contemporary literature at the University of Edinburgh. He is author of Unsettled Narratives: The Pacific Writings of Stevenson, Ellis, Melville, and London and Postcolonial Asylum: Seeking Sanctuary before the Law.

Anthropocene Poetics

The Anthropocene spells trouble: not only with respect to the global environmental changes, largely for the worse, to which it refers; but also in terms of the troublesome nature of the word itself. David Farrier’s brilliant elucidation of a multi-faceted ‘Anthropocene poetics’ delves into these troubles with great philosophical, scientific, social-ecological and aesthetic discernment. Whilst acknowledging the limited efficacy of poetry in response to the immense challenges of our perilous times, his carefully contextualized close readings of exemplary texts do indeed demonstrate how literature, and other art forms, can ‘help to frame the ground on which we stand as we consider which way to turn.’ This is, moreover, not only a work about poetry: it is also an exquisitely poetic work of scholarship.

Catherine Rigby, Bath Spa University, author of Dancing with Disaster*

In Anthropocene Poetics, David Farrier ventures into a poetics of the Anthropocene and calls for the need to create ‘an Anthropocenic literary imagination.’ Exploring the Anthropocene conundrums and dysphorias with avant-garde and lyric poetry, Anthropocene Poetics will certainly change the way we perceive deep time as well as our understanding of the poem. Imagine a creative becoming enfolded by the new poetics of deep and thick time!

Serpil Oppermann, Cappadocia University*

The Anthropocene needs poetry. With its vorticular temporalities, swift shifts in scale, enmeshment of the human and the nonhuman, and constant challenges to the adequacy of language, this age of ecological crisis may never be better understood by any other technology—even as the Anthropocene changes what we understand a poem to do. David Farrier’s brilliant new book is a rapturous meditation on ecocriticism, time, the limits of human comprehension, and the power of the humanities in a turbulent era.

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, author of Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman

Anthropocene Poetics

Contents
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Life Enfolded in Deep Time
1. Intimacy: The Poetics of Thick Time
2. Entangled: The Poetics of Sacrifice Zones
3. Swerve: The Poetics of Kin Making
Coda: Knots in Time
Index