Anthropocene

'Prickly new cells'

Diffractive reading and writing in Juliana Spahr's 'The Transformation'

One of my white blood cells amidst many red ones. Microscope photograph produced with the assistance of Jeff Stuart and Lucas Maddalena in Jeff Stuart's laboratory at Brock University.

Some of the most extreme acts of writing now being composed in the capitalist Anthropocene are being performed by petrochemicals. What does it look like to write in response to this writing? How do we “make oil a more conceptually powerful part of our knowing,” as Imre Szeman suggests must happen as part of any larger political activism?[1]

Metabolic pathways

Poetry and permeability

Test tube filled with blood
A sample of my blood. Photo credit: Jimmy Limit.

Oil is a form of writing. I know this because I can read it in my blood, urine, and shit. As part of research for a recent book, I tested myself for a wide range of chemicals. I also had my microbiome sequenced. I found petrochemical pollution in my blood and urine in the form of pesticides, flame retardants, phthalates, and more. I discovered evidence in my gut of shifted microbial communities associated with aspects of the Western diet. I wrote about what I found in a book called Anatomic, which I will discuss in more detail in the next post.

New writing through the Anthropocene

PennSound podcast #63: Allison Cobb and Brian Teare with Julia Bloch, Knar Gavin, and Aylin Malcolm

Book covers for Brian Teare's Doomstead Days and Allison Cobb's Green-Wood.

Allison Cobb and Brian Teare joined Julia Bloch, Knar Gavin, and Aylin Malcolm in the Wexler Studio on April 2, 2019, following their lunchtime discussion with scholars and poets from Penn’s Poetry and Poetics and Anthropocene and Animal Studies reading groups. Our discussion ranged from human embeddedness in the nonhuman world to the role of affect in poetry that seeks to reckon with ever intensifying ecodisasters.

Three pebbles

Or, the minimal materialisms of late modernism

Photo by Sandro Arcais, via Wikimedia Commons.

What is a pebble? Is it an object or a thing? A weapon or a tool? Is it naïve or is it sentimental? Is it a token of the real, or a fragment of ideology? Can you do more than skip it or hurl it or mark a grave with it? What is the pebble to poetry? Of what might the poem make it speak?

The poetry of unexecutable code

An unexecutable code poem by Mez Breeze
An unexecutable code poem by Mez Breeze

Along with the growth of executable code poetry, code poets are writing poems that draw on the aesthetic, formal, and visual dimensions of computer code without focusing on the executability of the code itself. The work of Mez Breeze, is one such example. Breeze is an Australian net.artist who uses the internet as a primary medium for her work. Her digital multimedia work combines sound, image, text, and code, and her writing includes electronic literature and code poems.

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