‘The fast fold of fret lines’: Intimacy, ecopoetics, and the local


I think nearly all my most recent writing has something to do with how ‘the local’, gender and intimacy intersect in a kind of ecopoetics. That ‘something’, of course, can take many different forms, however, at least in my mind, remains connected to those ideas, even if tenuously.

I’m not exactly sure what a suburban queer ecopoetics might look like, in general, but to my mind, it’s what I’m doing in my own way. In other words, how apparently mundane locations of ecological shifting and climate change/breakdown can figure in a poetry that recollects or reimagines embodied (human and non-human) locatedness and intimacy. If that doesn’t sound too stodgy.

It was certainly what I had in mind with my most recent book, last year’s Viva the Real (UQP 2018), as well as in my previous book, Brink (Five Islands Press 2017). And it is what I’ve tried to work through, making the personal even more personal as well as historical (more on this later), in a new manuscript that’s in development.

I’m not suggesting that I’m writing a ‘trilogy’ (haha), simply that is how it’s worked out over the last few years. Brink, of the three, is more of a statement about a poetics (my particular poetics) of an ecopoetics, in particular, dealing with climate change on micro and macro levels. This includes working the gap between sign and signified, recycling (ie composting, composing, decomposing), the use of fragments and the space/field of the page, lyric as engaged utterance. I feel that at least a couple of critics ‘got’ some or most of that, and I think/hope some readers. Meaning, the plan kinda worked, for those that read it.

Viva the Real
is a book focused even more on intimacy and sexuality/gender as part of this. As the book has barely been reviewed/noted, indeed most journals have refused to review it (I have ‘thoughts’ on why this was the case but this neither the time nor place ...), I’m not sure the idea did get across, in this instance. I believe it's a good book (well, a terrific book! but I would say that), and a book that is not that hard to ‘get’, despite one so-called critic’s comments. (Is poetry in the English language really that difficult?). I think the idea is clearly there, but, hey, I maybe very wrong on this.

The one serious review Viva the Real did get suggested the themes included: ‘
the natural world and its agents; the value of the non-human; the costs of technological progress; the simultaneous strangeness and ordinariness of existence; and love.’ And that ‘its abiding interests are the phenomenology of reality, the place of the human among the non-human, and the wildlife and vegetation that exist in our urban environments.’ The issues around gender, intimacy and mutability maybe seemed elusive, despite obvious allusions to the 2017 same-sex marriage postal vote and similar.

I suppose that readers see or don’t see, variously, what seems clear or (unclear) to the writer. It was ever thus, fascinating and/or frustrating as that may be on both sides. I’ll be interested to see what reception I'll get in this 'future' manuscript for these ideas I’ve been working out around iterative structures (relating to ideas of composing, de/re/composing), homage to queer pasts, variously, acknowledgment of language inheritance, in a context of my ideas around an ecopoetics. That is, if or when the manuscript idea gets an airing. If the answer is silence, I may decide to take a big writing swerve somewhere else, though given how the world is travelling, I can’t see how that could work. I may just keep on thinking and writing through these ideas at least to satisfy myself about how much they can be pushed, in my own way.

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