Never again would birds’ song be the same, or, ecopoetics when “there is no world”

Angelaki 23 (6):66-77 (2018)

This essay rethinks the meaning of ecopoetics by exploring poems about birds’ song – one of the most canonical themes in all of poetry – and how their poetics may be understood in relation to our growing ornithological knowledge about birds and how, why, and what they sing. While ecocriticism has traditionally thought such questions in terms of the experience – and the representation of the experience – of an auditor who, in her rapt attention, establishes the well-known bird/bard matrix familiar from the poetic tradition, this essay argues for a non-representationalist ecopoetics in which poem and birds’ song share a common infrastructure of iterability. This helps us locate the ecological dimension of poetics rather differently, and it also opens onto the non-representationalist understanding of our experience of “world” in both deconstruction and systems theory, which long ago replaced the concept of “nature” with “environment.”
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DOI 10.1080/0969725X.2018.1546992
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