Besvärja världen : En ekopoetisk studie i Inger Christensens alfabet
Sammanfattning: This dissertation centres on the long poem alfabet by Danish poet Inger Christensen. Dealing with the threat of nuclear disaster as well as the risk of chemical contamination, this poem has often been quoted as a precursor to the wave of ecopoetry in the Scandinavian literature of the 2010s. While there have been a few previous attempts to study Christensen’s poetry within the framework of ecocriticism, no study has hitherto investigated the significance and relevance of labeling alfabet as a work of ecopoetry, nor what contemporary ecopoetry inherits and transmits from Christensen’s poem. It is the aim of this study to disclose how Christensen conjures up an ecopoetic response to global crises, as well as how the ecopoetry of the 21st century responds to her poem.The method of the investigation is inspired by the centrality of interconnectivity for ecological thinking, as well as the affirmative and creative sensibility of postcritique. Through close reading combined with exploration of intertextual connections, this thesis interprets and discusses alfabet from an ecocritical point of view, while concurrently asking what contributions the poem can make to the development of ecocritical theory and the subfield of ecopoetics. From this interplay between theory and poetic praxis, the key questions of this thesis emerge: How does Christensen’s work with poetic form illuminate ecocritical issues regarding the relation between language and world? Can incantation be understood as an ecopoetic strategy? What kind of subject is conjured up in alfabet, and in what relation does it stand to the more-than-human world? How does Christensen deal with the pervasive trope of apocalyptism as a way of representing global crises? In what ways do some of the ecopoetic texts of the 2000s reinterpret alfabet, and do these poems in turn shed new light upon Christensen’s poem? Furthermore, the similarities and differences between a romantic and a postmodern ecology are explored through the thesis’ attempts at syncretising two strands of research on Christensen’s poetry.The first four chapters analyse and discuss alfabet from different points of view, utilising divergent theoretical and intertextual approaches, while the fifth chapter examines a selection of poems by Ida Börjel, Agnar Lirhus and Juliana Spahr. I argue that alfabet belongs to the tradition of organic formalism, as Christensen’s use of formal play is intertwined with and dependent upon a view of nature as creative and self-organising. Furthermore, I suggest that rhythm should be a central concept of ecopoetics – not only because of the enchanting effects of incantation, but also because rhythm is the most bodily function of language: it is what connects bodies to each other, including the human body to more-than-human ones. Regarding the difficult but pervasive ecopoetical question of what poetry can do for us in times of global crisis, I suggest that reading poems such as alfabet is, among many other things, a way of exercising one’s capability of dealing with uncertainties and doubt – a lesson in how to meet the mysteries of a diverse and unstable more-than-human world.
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