HOTB2020 Panel 6.1: Excavating Urgency: Slow Violence, Fast Disaster, and What Lies in Wait



Panel 6.1: Excavating Urgency: Slow Violence, Fast Disaster, and What Lies in Wait

“Post-Apocalyptic Latency Poetics and Living ‘Here'”

Stacey Balkun (University of Mississippi)

“‘Shit Happens’: Excavating Excrement in Contemporary(ish) Ecopoetics”

Elijah Two Bears (University of Mississippi)

“Toward a Corona Journal”

Ann Fisher-Wirth (University of Mississippi)

“Carbon Glow”

Regina Young (University of Mississippi)



Q & A

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8 replies
    • Nicholas Reich says:


      I agree with Judith; your presentation is truly fabulous. Thank you for putting such intricate thought into this disruptive set of ideas!

      But I’m left wondering, is there a way to pay more attention to shit without necessarily ‘lifting it up’ into the realm of high ecology or sacredness (in whatever form that takes)? De-anthropocentricity is a great positve! But maybe there’s value in shit *as* a terrible and abject material, rather than a key to cosmic composting? Can “fecopoetics” (as Morrison would say), in addition to this lifting up into a greater environmental awareness, also be about living into depravity and dirtiness in a way that’s productively disruptive to human frameworks that intersect with environmental awareness?

      • Elijah Two Bears says:

        Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate you watching and engaging with my presentation.

        I agree with your push that we can, and should, also pay attention to shit as an abject and nasty substance. The longer version of the paper that this presentation was cut down from included a section where I talked about a third category of shit poetics which I termed “subversive and shocking” shit. In this section, I worked through poems like Kinnell’s “The Bear” where the speaker comes across “a turd sopped in blood” which they then thrust into their mouth and “gnash it down” and Chen Chen’s poem “Winter” that starts with the disruptive line, “big smelly bowel movements this blue January morning.” To me, this way of using shit as a gross shock device initiates a process of reeling back and reflection that provides a critical opportunity to, following Dungy, accomplish the work of “de-pristining” our environmental imagination

        I believe that talking about shit inevitably ties in with those bodies, queer, p.o.c., poor, etc, that our society treats like shit. As we pump shit to contained facilities on the edges of our cities, white hetero-patriarchy pushes ‘undesirable’ bodies to literal and metaphorical margins of their societal sphere of vision. Given another pass at this presentation, or a chance to lengthen it, I would like to think through and incorporate a response to your last question in more detail.

        Again, thank you for your thoughtful response to my presentation. I appreciate it!

  1. Stacey Balkun says:

    Elijah, Regina, & Ann, thank you so much for sharing your work here! What joy to see the different directions our shared discussions on ecopoetics have traveled. It’s good to see your faces and hear your voices. I hope we can chat more about our work.

  2. Stacey Balkun says:

    Regina, your hybrid project reminds me so much of Muriel Rukeyser’s The Book of The Dead. Did her work influence your project, and if so, could you tell us a bit more? How did you do the research necessary for your poem/essay, and how did you choose what to keep and what to leave out?

  3. Emily Simon, Brown University says:

    Stacey: thank you for your presentation! I too have been thinking a lot about how poetry approaches protracted, lingering, and enduring disasters—how it formalizes their simultaneous impact and imperceptibility. I’m really struck by your notion of a “post-apocalyptic latency poetics” as a way of grouping and exploring those kinds of compositions, because I think they present specific challenges to time and perception. The temporality (or possible timelessness) of latency seems an especially generative concept. Really exciting work!

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