Ecopoetics and Writing the Non-Human
Ecopoetics is the study of literature concerned with ecology and nature. This five-week online workshop will examine how ecology and nature have become complicated in the twenty-first century, alongside many other questions that appear when we start to unravel that complication. What do we mean by nature? How do we think about interconnection in our poems? Interconnection between whom and what? How does one write about the climate crisis, ecological justice, and non-human beings? How can the study of ecopoetics actually help us think about the complicated, interconnected challenges of the twenty-first century at large?
We’ll discuss these questions and explore them in our writing with the help of selected readings by Linda Russo & Marthe Reede, Timothy Morton, Stacy Szymaszek, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Ray Bradbury, Ursula K Le Guin, CA Conrad, Jenny Zhang, Harmony Holiday, Lauren Bon and Jericha Marchane. We’ll write from the perspective of non-humans; write poems that consider those who’ve come before us and those who’ll come after; write about the (supply) chain of associations between you and a cup of coffee; write along the path of NYC’s watershed and waterways from source to tap; and invent new words to describe the challenges of this new century, using these words to compose poems. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Sunday afternoon, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink. By immersing ourselves in considerations of history, time, place and the non-human actors all around us, we connect to ourselves, our concerns and everything around us more fully and deeply, allowing us to write about nature in fresher, more politically minded ways.
Robert Balun teaches creative writing and literature at the City College of New York, where he received his MFA in 2014. His first collection of poems, Acid Western, will be published by the Operating System in 2020, and recent work has appeared in Powder Keg, Prelude, Barrow Street, Apogee and other places. He is a recipient of the Teacher-Writer Award, the Jerome Lowell Dejur Prize and a Sydney Jacoff Fellowship from CCNY, as well as scholarships from the Home School, the Garrison Institute and the CUNY School of Journalism.