Environmental Humanities

Unsettling Ecological Poetics

Posada - A group of people attacking a giant snail (c. 1880-1910).

Ecological poetics. Ecopoetics. Ecopoiesis. These and other words give terminological form to a growing impulse among those who labour with language and literature: to articulate, reckon with, and remake relations among the world’s human and more-than-human communities. Words, images, sounds, and stories—and the voices, histories, and desires they hear and ignore—are implicated in the shaping, as well as the undoing, of worlds. An ethical ecological poetics, then, imagines, composes, and speaks through a spirit of responsibility for the places, relations, and beings it draws near.

Unsettling Ecological Poetics, a collaboration between the Sydney Environment Institute and the Visiting Indigenous Writers Program, situates these challenges in and from Australia. A pivotal recent symposium, at the University of Sydney, gathered a cosmopolitan and multidisciplinary array of scholars and practitioners to ask how Australian perspectives intersect with, and diverge from, ecopoetics on a planetary scale. A coincident, warmly received salon performed this and other inquiries for a broader public.

In its current stage, Unsettling Ecological Poetics is developing along a number of trajectories. An edited collection of scholarly essays has been proposed to a leading international journal. A teaching resource, accessible to colleagues at secondary as well as tertiary levels, is in development. And a podcast series, featuring essential voices in Australian ecological poetics, is under way. Watch this space—and please contact Killian Quigley (killian.quigley@sydney.edu.au) with any inquiries.

This project is being led by Dr Killian Quigley, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Sydney Environment Institute.