Neither a survey of contemporary practice, nor a conference report, this ‘plenary’ is a petri dish of ideas occasioned by the 2015 convening of ASLE ( limited by my own ability to digest the conference offerings).
In “Gentle Now, Don't Add to Heartache,” Juliana Spahr offers a narrative of the displacement of human imagination defined by creaturely and vegetal affiliation and transelemental immersion in the natural world. Lists of nonhuman species imply an abundant, connective world, and these same are beseeched not to “add to heartache,” prior to their replacement by chemical-industrial products later in the poem. “We come into the world / and there it is” – the poem’s opening lines prompt.
In their plenary at the recent conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, Donna Haraway and Anna Tsing oriented us toward the concept of a multi- species world-making based on the ecological process of resurgence. Resurgence, they clarified, is the response to a “disturbance” – any quick ecological change, such as farming. They explained that in our management of ecosystems, we block resurgence – even though an ecosystem (and we humans) can’t survive without it.