James Sherry’s Oops! Environmental Poetics

Oops!Back in Brooklyn, where the “rentrée” is much less hectic & thus much more pleasurable than in Paris… thus, first local fall pleasure, the event, two evenings ago, at Poisson Rouge for James Sherry’s new book Oops! Environmental Poetics published by Blaze VOX (you can buy it here). James read an extract from what looks like (well, sounded like) an excellent statement on ecopoetics  — actually I prefer his term, environmental poetics — which I hope will appear somewhere soon. Meanwhile I’ve started into Oops! & have already come across & been seduced by a word/concept new to me: tagmosis, which James gets from Stephen Jay Gould (“Discrete skeletal units are known as tagma. The process of fusion is called Tagmosis”) & extends to his own field of endeavor, thus: “Discrete structural units of poetry are known as prosody. The process of fusion of prosodic units is known as writing.” Thus writing as tagmosis, and indeed the book underhand very much such an act as it fuses essay, science, poetry, politics, ecology. Below, what the publisher & the blurbistas have to say about a book I recommend most highly:

Oops! Environmental Poetics

Oops! Environmental Poetics proposes that the cause of global warming is desire. We already have the technology to arrest climate change. We have the political systems to implement social transformation. But we lack the will to adopt a more sustainable future. In a linked series of essays and poems, Oops! shows how changing our perspective on the biosphere links human thought to the actions we need to survive. Oops! engages an activist poetics that is both in our interest and within our grasp.  

For all of the talk of globalism by the chattering classes, it is worth keeping in mind that there are just two global systems: capital and the biosphere. Every response to either is inescapably particularized by its location. The stresses of such imbalance are what move the world, that locomotive sans engineer heading straight for the chasm.
Ten years before September 11, James Sherry’s Our Nuclear Heritage foresaw – with stunning clarity – the interactions between world politics & human culture in the 21st Century. Now Oops! extends that vision perhaps even to the end of the human experiment. Far more than a Cassandra for the new millennium, Sherry’s vision has deepened over the decades, offering analysis & strategies we would be wise to heed.Poetry is risk – or else! How ironic that the closest thing we have now to a Benjamin or Adorno should be someone who has worked at the intersection of computing & finance just across the street from the late, lamented CBGBs all these years.

—Ron Silliman, author of The Alphabet

James Sherry takes Nature as his subject and finds Natures.   He pulls us from the corny green landscape and awakens the savannah.

–Jesse Ausubel, Director, Program for the Human Environment, The Rockefeller University

What poetry can change is the will to change. James Sherry finds “real correspondence” between poetry’s conditional truths and the great out there, and he definitively places poetry at the center of our being-in-ecology. For a beautifully detailed understanding of poetry’s possibilities in apprehending the deep bonds, niches and connections of us-we-there-them-where-here, read Oops!.

–Marcella Durand, author of Traffic & Weather



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