A critical study described as ‘original, rigorous and timely’ has won one of Britain’s premier environmental writing prizes.
Poetry & Commons: Postwar and Romantic Lyric in Times of Enclosure by Daniel Eltringham this week won the biennial creative writing prize awarded by the British and Irish Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, the body which represents teachers and scholars of environmental writing and ecocriticism.
Original, rigorous and timely, this book puts Romantic-era poetry into fruitful dialogue with post-war and contemporary British avant-garde poetry. In doing so, Eltringham reveals why the figure of the commons might matter now more than ever, in the face of market-driven, neoliberal forms of enclosure, entwined with ecological crisis.
Eltringham compellingly demonstrates how we can use historical knowledge in the contemporary moment by tracing the ways in which recent poets revisit, revise and revivify ideas of the commons and practices of commoning. The book’s materialist approach offers an inventive take on some well-known poems by canonical Romantic writers, as well as introducing readers to a wealth of new poetic and contextual materials.
The judges especially valued its meticulous research, astute in-depth analysis and illuminating discussions of both poetry and politics. But there are moments of humour and hope too. As Eltringham wryly points out, “sheep and poetry are uneasy companions;” yet his book amply reveals how such unlikely alliances might model productive forms of collectivity and resistance.
Poetry & Commons is published by Liverpool University Press, ISBN 9781800856509. The book is available from Liverpool University Press and other booksellers.
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