"Out of the Maze of Dualisms": Posthuman Space in Mario Petrucci and Alice Oswald's Poetry
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In the light of recent theories of posthumanism that promote a non-anthropocentric perspective, this study examines the poems of contemporary British poets Mario Petrucci and Alice Oswald and argues that they write posthuman poetry which represents posthuman space(s) of becoming, where the human and the nonhuman worlds exist on a non-hierarchical basis. This study thus shows that Petrucci’s posthuman poetry is mainly concerned with representing the ecological problems observed in the Anthropocene, and it illustrates how the human agency is dwarfed by the destructive consequences generated in the ecosystem. In a posthuman context, therefore, Petrucci problematises the human/nonhuman binary by demonstrating the erosion of the anthropocentric world view in the face of environmental crises such as deforestation, global warming, and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Bosco (1999), Heavy Water: A Poem for Chernobyl (2004) and Half Life: Poems for Chernobyl (2004). In these collections, Petrucci underscores the agentic properties of trees and radioactive particles, and thereby challenges the prevalent view of nonhuman matter as a passive entity. Likewise, Alice Oswald introduces a posthuman poetry which moves the reader beyond the human-centred treatment of the natural world. Negating human exceptionalism, Oswald’s Dart (2002) offers a polyphonic meshwork where the voices of alternating human speakers and that of the River Dart flow into one another in a posthuman space. Underlining intersubjective and dialogic interchange between human and nonhuman inhabitants of the Severn Estuary and the lunar cycle, Oswald’s A Sleepwalk on the Severn (2009) also disavows the subject/object binary by forming a posthuman space of becoming that involves a communicative framework. Hence, bringing Petrucci and Oswald together, this study calls attention to the trans-corporeal and polyphonic entanglement of human-nonhuman, subject-object and self-other non-binaries, and it aims to show how poetry, as a literary tool, can help to change the restricted anthropocentric vision of humankind in today’s world.
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