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Poetics of Liveliness

Molecules, Fibers, Tissues, Clouds

«Poetics of Liveliness operates . . . scalarly, moves fluidly between the realms of the very small and the very large, revealing relationships between multifaceted, nonhuman material assemblages, while Smailbegović’s expertise in a variety of scientific fields buttresses the author’s ability to build the necessary information networks as she moves through the diverse levels of those relationships.»

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Can poetry act as an aesthetic amplification device, akin to a microscope, through which we can sense minute or nearly imperceptible phenomena such as the folding of molecules into their three-dimensional shapes, the transformations that make up the life cycle of a silkworm, or the vaporous movements that constitute the ever-shifting edges of clouds? We tend to think of these subjects as reserved for science, but, as Ada Smailbegovic argues, twentieth- and twenty-first-century writers have intermingled scientific methodologies with poetic form to reveal unfolding processes of change. Les mer

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Can poetry act as an aesthetic amplification device, akin to a microscope, through which we can sense minute or nearly imperceptible phenomena such as the folding of molecules into their three-dimensional shapes, the transformations that make up the life cycle of a silkworm, or the vaporous movements that constitute the ever-shifting edges of clouds? We tend to think of these subjects as reserved for science, but, as Ada Smailbegovic argues, twentieth- and twenty-first-century writers have intermingled scientific methodologies with poetic form to reveal unfolding processes of change. Their works can be envisioned as laboratories within which the methodologies of experimentation, natural historical description, and taxonomic classification allow poetic language to register the rhythms and durations of material transformation.

Poetics of Liveliness moves across scales to explore the realms of molecules, fibers, tissues, and clouds. It investigates works such as Christian Boek's insertion of a poetic text into the DNA code of living bacteria in order to generate a new poem in the shape of a protein molecule, Jen Bervin's considerations of silk fibers and their use in biomedicine, Gertrude Stein's examination of brain tissues in medical school and its subsequent influence on her literary taxonomies of character, and Lisa Robertson's studies of nineteenth-century meteorology and the soft architecture of clouds. In their attempt to understand physical processes unfolding within lively material worlds, Smailbegovic contends, these poets have developed a distinctive materialist poetics. Structured as a poetic cosmology akin to Lucretius's "On the Nature of Things," which begins at the atomic level and expands out to the vastness of the universe, Poetics of Liveliness provides an innovative and surprising vision of the relationship between science and poetry.

Detaljer

Forlag
Columbia University Press
Innbinding
Paperback
Språk
Engelsk
ISBN
9780231198271
Utgivelsesår
2021
Format
23 x 15 cm
Priser
Matei Calinescu Prize, Modern Language Association 2021

Om forfatteren

Ada Smailbegovic is an assistant professor of English at Brown University. She is a cofounder of the digital publishing platform the Organism for Poetic Research, and she has published essays and poetic work in a variety of venues.

Anmeldelser

«Poetics of Liveliness operates . . . scalarly, moves fluidly between the realms of the very small and the very large, revealing relationships between multifaceted, nonhuman material assemblages, while Smailbegović’s expertise in a variety of scientific fields buttresses the author’s ability to build the necessary information networks as she moves through the diverse levels of those relationships.»

Jacket2

«Smailbegović addresses the entwined relations between contemporary North American poetry and developments in philosophy, art, and science. She argues that each of these fields or practices address the same kinds of complexity in the world, both enabling language to emerge from the world (whether in human or animal form) and materiality to complexify and elaborate itself chemically and evolutionarily.»

Elizabeth Grosz, author of <i>The Incorporeal: Ontology, Ethics, and the Limits of Materialism</i>

«Smailbegovic’s book serves as connective tissue between a scientific treatment of literature and a deeper consideration of what it means to think with the nonhuman in all scales and on all levels of sentience.»

ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment

«In a remarkable feat of interdisciplinary scholarship, this book plumbs the depths and scans the horizons of what it means to write on, in, of, and with “life” through a poetry and poetics of experimentation. Science meets poetry meets the ongoing unknown in a redefinition of environmental poetics—bravo!»

Cary Wolfe, author of <i>Ecological Poetics; or, Wallace Stevens’s Birds</i>

«[Smailbegović's] project is to break down reified discourses of materiality by means of a poetics as lively as the nonhuman things it describes, or decorates. It is a significant, serious, yet playful account of how, in the hands of these poet-naturalists, metaphor can be used strategically to liberate readers and their reading matter alike.»

Modernism/modernity

«Writing as a poet versed in biology, physics, and meteorology, Smailbegović explains minute and slow-moving material phenomena as acutely as she does poetic nuance. Rather than unveil worlds normally imperceptible at human scale, her “edge work” tracks partial contact between actants moving past and through one another at different speeds. Offering a feminist account of the pliability or softness of matter, Poetics of Liveliness reads as an incipient, emergent organism in its own right, slowly and recursively proceeding by multiplying surfaces of responsiveness.»

Anne-Lise François, author of <i>Open Secrets: The Literature of Uncounted Experience</i>

«Poetics of Liveliness has two muses. One, Gertrude Stein, is named; the other, William Blake, is the “unnamed form” animating this book of wonders. Meshing handwork to brainwork, Blake’s multimedia inventions release from “the merely natural” a body of knowledge—and knowledge of bodies—that is larger, more minutely organized, and more alive than our philosophy had dreamt of. Smailbegović proves herself a member of Blake’s tribe, not just its ethnographer. Her study addresses poetry and poetics, new and old ontology, science, technology, and media studies, and ecopoetics.»

Marjorie Levinson, author of <i>Thinking Through Poetry: Field Reports on Romantic Lyric</i>

«For readers intrigued by the material turn (and its discontents), and no less for readers curious about what lies at the forefront of materialist-poetic experimentation today, Poetics of Liveliness should not be missed.»

American Literary History

«Poetics of Liveliness is an essential read for anyone who’s interested in the connections between science and literature, and in the tremendous potential they hold for the future of critical theory and for its immediate present.»

Textual Practice

«[A] valuable and original contribution to interdisciplinary studies . . . it will be appealing not only to literary scholars, but also to a broader audience of philosophers, ecologists, new materialists, and possibly even to the scientific community, from entomologists to physicists. Because of its strong theoretical foundations, Poetics of Liveliness will surely act as a catalyst for future inquiries into the study of material ecologies.»

H-Environment, H-Net Reviews

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