Lynn Keller

Bodies and antibodies

Multispecies writing in Karin Bolender's 'R.A.W. Assmilk Soap' and Jen Bervin's 'Silk Poems'

soap made from assmilk
Rural Alchemy Workshop (R.A.W.) Assmilk soap, by Karin Bolender (photo by Karin Bolender).

As uninvited interlocutors, other creatures have long been writing their way into the metabolic conversations of human life. As vectors for various parasites and viruses, mosquitoes, for example, have exerted considerable pressure on human evolutionary and cultural history. They have killed approximately half of the humans who have ever lived, Timothy C. Winegard points out in his book detailing, among other things, the cascading connections between the mosquito and the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the transatlantic slave trade, the spread of Christianity, and the development of modern democracy. Beyond the consequential molecular inscriptions of an insect bite, however, how has the metabolism of other creatures informed conceptualizations and approaches to writing itself? How have writers worked with the metabolizing bodies of other creatures, inviting them to participate in imagining new forms of kinship and sustainable relationships with place and multispecies community?

As uninvited interlocutors, other creatures have long been writing their way into the metabolic conversations of human life. As vectors for various parasites and viruses, mosquitoes, for example, have exerted considerable pressure on human evolutionary and cultural history. They have killed approximately half of the humans who have ever lived, Timothy C.

a.rawlings: Ecopoetic intersubjectivity

a.rawlings at Swartifoss, Iceland.

In a recent essay, “Learning the Grammar of Animacy,” Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist who is a member of the Potawatomi tribe (one of the Ojibwe or Anishinaabe peoples of North America), recounts being stunned when she learned of the word puhpowee from an ethnobotanical study on traditional Anishinaabe uses of fungi.

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