Environment and Empire in Contemporary Poetry

Instructor: Stephanie Papa

A two-day intensive course!

“We’ve all had enough tragedy to stop us, yet we don’t stop.”
– Natalie Diaz

From large-scale uprisings to local community efforts, the 21st century has seen continued resistance to state actions (and inaction) that threaten human and non-human life alike. On the front lines of political expression, we find contemporary poets who engage with the challenges of ecological disruption and toxic industrialization. Their work illuminates the direct links between our environmental emergency and settler-colonial ideologies. This course considers poetry from a decolonial and ecocritical lens, interrogating the connections between empire and environment.

More and more poets of native nations have been translating their experience of extractivism and ecological disruption, which, as Pueblo U.S. Representative Debra Haaland says, is “reminiscent of the darkest days of our history.” Together, we will read key poets including Natalie Diaz (Mojave), Allison Adelle Hedge Coke (Cherokee, Huron), Layli Long Soldier (Lakota), Sherwin Bitsui (Diné), and Craig Santos Perez (Chamoru), alongside indigenous thinkers, activists, and recent schools of thought which overlap with postcolonial ecocriticism.

How do these poets express ecological relationships which oppose destructive practices towards human and non-human bodies? And how does the use of multiple languages in their poems affect their work? By the end of this course, we will gain an appreciation of the inventive forms and linguistic techniques shaping 21st-century poetry; an understanding of ecocritical thought; and inspiration for our own writing.

Each session will include an optional creative component where participants may, if they so choose, workshop their own poems on the themes of the course and receive constructive feedback.

Maximum enrollment: 10


Saturday & Sunday, 14:00-17:00
18-19 March 2023
1 weekend (6 hours)


75016, Paris

All PICT courses are held in person. Participants will be contacted by the course instructor with all relevant details (readings if any, exact address, etc.) via email during the week leading up to the course.

All PICT courses are exclusive for PICT Members. Become a member from 3 euros/month.


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