This Compost: Ecological Imperatives in American Poetry

This Compost: Ecological Imperatives in American Poetry

by Jed Rasula

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Poetry, for Jed Rasula, bears traces of our entanglement with our surroundings, and these traces define a collective voice in modern poetry independent of the more specific influences and backgrounds of the poets themselves. In This Compost Rasula surveys both the convictions asserted by American poets and the poetics they develop in their craft, all with an eye toward an emerging ecological worldview.

Rasula begins by examining poets associated with Black Mountain College in the 1950s—Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Robert Duncan—and their successors. But This Compost extends to include earlier poets like Robinson Jeffers, Ezra Pound, Louis Zukofsky, Kenneth Rexroth, and Muriel Rukeyser, as well as Clayton Eshleman, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, and other contemporary poets. Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson also make appearances. Rasula draws this diverse group of poets together, uncovering how the past is a "compost" fertilizing the present. He looks at the heritage of ancient lore and the legacy of modern history and colonial violence as factors contributing to ecological imperatives in modern poetry.

This Compost restores the dialogue between poetic language and the geophysical, biological realm of nature that so much postmodern discourse has sought to silence. It is a fully developed, carefully argued book that deals with an underrepresented element in modern American culture, where the natural world and those who write about it have been greatly neglected in contemporary literary history and theory.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780820344805
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Publication date: 09/01/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 280
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

JED RASULA is Helen S. Lanier Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Georgia. He is the author of The American Poetry Wax Museum: Reality Effects, 1940–1990 and coauthor of Imagining Language: An Anthology.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction 1

Gilgamesh 11

The library 13

Generation 20

The tropics, & the trope 23

Cinders 28

Vomito cogito 33

That origin which is act… that riddle which is awe 38

The archaic and the old lore 43

Indian skin 48

On the extremest verge 51

The rim, the sediment 57

Necropoetics 64

Muses' archetext 69

A skin of mouths 76

The vessel 83

Nigredo 91

From Saturn to Demeter 97

Milk light 100

The floor of the upside down 106

The starry horizon 112

The frozen being 120

Emanation 123

Memoranda and signatures 125

Proprioception 130

Vertigo 135

Characters 138

Language obeyed 141

Pestilence 145

De rerum natura: epic's lyric absolute 149

Ghosts of inner ecology 159

Origin 165

Detritus pathways 172

Scruples & superstition 177

Psychosm 179

Superfluity 182

The empty house 186

The times promised 188

The uninterrupted tissue 193

Citations 201

Bibliography 223

Biographical Glossary 237

Index 249

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