Connor Weightman has had poetry published in Cordite, Westerly and Plumwood Mountain. He is currently researching and writing a creative PhD about the representational problems posed by oil.

A Long Problem

The ecological long poem and a model for climate change poetics

Although the difficulty of representing climate change remains an issue across all literary genres, some critics argue that poetry is perhaps most able to account for the problems of open-endedness, temporal and geographical scale. However, existing climate change poetry remains too often framed by ideological narratives, relying on the reader to already be onside of the problem. To that end, this article offers totalising long poetry as an approach to future poetic representation of climate change. It explores two ecological long poems, ‘Hymn to Life’ by Timothy Donnelly (2014) and ‘Wildfire’ by Andrea Brady (2010). Through different visual devices, both poems use fragmentation and parataxis to interlink an excess of information that spans histories, places, sciences and media. This use of information density leads to ‘sublime’ and ‘operational’ aesthetics, creating potential reader engagement with the subjects at hand. By performing the organisation of a large amount of material, they implicate the poem-writing in the process, and ask the readers to do the same, emphasising the conceptually indeterminate process of encountering wide-scale Anthropocene problems over textual closure.

Keywords: climate change; long poem; Timothy Donnelly; Andrea Brady; ecopoetry