"Cultivating an Ability to Imagine": Ryan Walsh's Reckonings and the Poetics of Toxicity
For nearly two decades since Lawrence Buell defined and anatomized “toxic discourse” in Writing for an Endangered World: Literature, Culture, and Environment in the U.S. and Beyond (2001), the storying of toxic experience has received fruitful theoretical and literary attention. Throughout the world, citizens have come to terms with the reality that we live on a poisoned planet and the poisons in our environment are also in ourselves—the poisons our industrial activities spew into the air, water, soil, and food are almost imperceptibly (“slowly,” as Rob Nixon would put it) absorbed into all of our bodies (through the process Stacy Alaimo described as “transcorporeality”). Biologist and literary activist Sandra Steingraber stated in Living Downstream: A Scientist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment (1997) that we must “cultivat[e] an ability to imagine” in order to appreciate the meaning of our post-industrial lives. In this essay, I focus on Ryan Walsh’s new collection of poetry, Reckonings (2019), and on Pramod K. Nayar’s recent ecocritical study, Bhopal’s Ecological Gothic: Disaster, Precarity, and the Biopolitical Uncanny (2017), in order to propose and define an evolving “poetics of toxicity.”
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
a) Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal (CC BY-NC for articles and CC BY-NC-ND for creative work, unless author requests otherwise.
b) Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
c) Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).