4-Vivid Entanglements: Materializing Climate Crisis in Mainstream Poetry

How does contemporary mainstream Anglophone poetry represent climate crisis? Taking this simple question as starting point to critical exploration, this article contends that mainstream poets, often dismissed as conventionally realist (and, as a result, very seldom taken as objects of ecocritical study) as opposed to the experimental avant-garde, use innovative poetics in order to figure a crisis defeating both imagination and representation, as well as metapoetically interrogate their own modes of representing nature. Through the study of a recent anthology dedicated to the climate crisis, Kate Simpson’s Out of Time, Poetry from the Climate Emergency (2021), we will see how mainstream poets experiment with form and language, focusing attention on the visuality, iconicity, materiality and plasticity of the poem, rather than the “hyperobject” (Morton) they purportedly represent. Troubling mimetic representation in order to open up the poem into a more problematic site of meaning, these poems grope with issues of scale, space and voice, pushing the reader to actively engage with the recalcitrant text and, potentially, experience their entanglement in the world through poetic artifice.

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