Journal article

'What Rubbish: Ecologies of Vibrant Matter in Contemporary Poetry'

A Johnson

AXON CREATIVE EXPLORATIONS | The University of Canberra | Published : 2018


This essay explores how ordinary objects and substances are given agency to become, in Jane Bennett’s words, ‘agential actants’. I review the importance of Bennett’s work in vital materialism where she rethinks the value of inanimate objects and our relationship to them. Then, drawing on the work of selected poets including Simon Armitage, Kathleen Jamie, Luke Kennard, Judith Wright, John Kinsella and Oodgeroo Noonuccal, I explore how these poets deploy humble, inanimate objects and substances (plastic; dust, industrial, chemical and green waste) as ‘vibrant matter’ to intensify, subvert and foreground the ecological meaning and being of objects in their poems. I show that while certain poe..

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University of Melbourne Researchers