Unsettling Ecological Poetics, Sydney, 24-25 October 2019

12 Sep Unsettling Ecological Poetics, Sydney, 24-25 October 2019

Sydney Environment Institute
University of Sydney

October 24 – October 25
RD Watt Seminar Room
Further information: http://sydney.edu.au/environment-institute/events/unsettling-ecological-poetics/

A symposium and workshop sponsored by the Sydney Environment Institute in collaboration with the Visiting Indigenous Writers Program. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. Audre Lorde, “Poetry is Not a Luxury” (1977) Languages and literatures are neither passive nor neutral. More than merely transcribing the world, they collaborate with it in the makings of meaning—of place, experience, memory, identity, and on. In the courses of crises, as meanings shift, shudder, and shatter, it matters even more than usual how we name, imagine, describe, and story-tell.

Ecological poetics—“ecopoetics,” for short—understands languages as always already embedded in, and in relation to, their physical environments. Lately, as international awareness of ecological precarity has risen, so have theories and practices of ecological poetics acquired exceptional urgency. Ecopoetics, writes the poet and scholar Isabel Sobral Campos, “may begin to offer new models of how to live on earth and how to reimagine our place within the biosphere.”

While its prominence has increased, ecopoetics has also become the target of critique. Some have argued that its sweeping, planetary framework makes it insensitive to the specificities of the local. Others have pointed out that its emphasis on the “new”—on new visions, languages, forms, and so on—reproduces the very rhetoric of innovation, exploration, and improvement that has been implicated in ecological and other disasters.

Unsettling Ecological Poetics engages this tension by situating ecopoetics in the places known, in Commonwealth parlance, as Australia. Over two days, a culturally and disciplinarily diverse group of critical and creative practitioners will characterise the priorities and possibilities of a situated ecopoetics. Our work will draw nourishment from currents in planetary ecopoetics while reworking those currents, and while rejigging relations among West and East, North and South, global and neighbourly.

A symposium, open to the public, will feature presentations from and conversations among numerous distinguished colleagues. Confirmed participants currently include Charmaine Papertalk Green, Ellen van Neerven, Michael Farrell, Jeanine Leane, Anne Elvey, Jill Jones, John Kinsella, Michelle Cahill, Toby Fitch, Susan Reid, Evelyn Araluen, Jonathan Dunk, Astrida Neimanis, Jennifer Hamilton, Joshua Lobb, Michael Adams, Thom van Dooren, and Anne Collett. A closed workshop, to follow the symposium, will craft a statement of situated ecopoetics and establish the futures of this work.

To register, please send a one sentence expression of interest to sei.events@sydney.edu.au

Any additional questions, please contact Dr Killian Quigley (killian.quigley@sydney.edu.au), Dr Caitlin Maling (caitlin.maling@sydney.edu.au), and/or Dr Peter Minter (peter.minter@sydney.edu.au) with any queries.

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