Poetics of Emplacement – Map 4

Lisa Phillips, Guest Contributor

This post is part of a series on SRPR’s ongoing and evolving conceptualization of the Poetics of Emplacement. What do we mean by Poetics of Emplacement? SRPR’s editor, contributing editors, staff members and friends share their thoughts here.

Establishing an appreciation (or awareness) for what a “poetics of emplacement” might look like, or evoke, one that is grounded in understandings of place as a process in flux that is both open to interpretation and revision seems salient to the discussion I see evolving on SRPR’s blog. A poetics of emplacement, to my mind, is entangled with the recognition that places can be in Altha Cravey and Michael Petit’s words “spatially organized as confining . . . manifest a way of knowing, and places are often objects of power created to further particular forms of domination based on gender, sexuality, race, age, class, and physical ability” (102). A “dedication to place . . . better understood as an interest in emplacement” brings forth a nested arrangement of relations both social/historical and geographical/geophysical.

Because I am not familiar with what a poet’s notion of emplacement might be, (and I’m curious) I had to look up the word “emplacement” and its verb form “emplace” to determine the etymological context of the word. On one hand, the word emplacement means the action of placing in a certain position and the condition of being so placed (OED). On another hand, the word relates to placement of a building, a situation, a position. More disconcerting, for me at least, emplacement is a militaristic term meaning a platform for guns replete with defensive epaulements that afford cover from enemy attack. The poetics of emplacement then can be imagined as both a defensive move and an action taken toward others be they foes or friends.

While I would like to imagine a world in which there were only friends that would indeed be a provincial naïveté. Given that the SRPR’s editor wishes “to make it clear that a contemporary and theoretically informed recuperation of place-based poetics is hardly provincial” it may be fitting to consider how emplacements are built to protect and defend borders, for they are not designed to be attacked from behind. That an emplacement will surely have a blind spot or two makes diffractive reading necessary. Diffraction à la Karen Barad assumes that we will not be able to see everything at once. The idea ought to encourage us to look forward to new situations and positions that afford us alternative perspectives. The pages of SRPR provides me the opportunity to do just that as a rhetor with poetic affinity.

Thanks for an inspiring issue of SRPR.

In case you were wondering what an emplacement looks like . . .

WWII Aleutian Island Emplacement
WWII Aleutian Island Emplacement. Unalaska, AK.
(From http://www.city-data.com/forum/alaska/417413-term-alaskan-22.html)

 

Work Cited:

Cravey, Altha J., and Michael Petit. “A Critical Pedagogy of Place: Learning Through the Body.” Feminist Formations 24.2 (2012): 100-19. Project Muse. Web. 22 June. 2013.

Lisa Phillips is a doctoral candidate in English at Illinois State. One part of Phillips likes to talk about her accomplishments with other folks who are not that curious, and another part of Phillips is humbled by what other folks do despite enormous obstacles. Middle ground is useful…”I write about things that occur to me, and I try not to embarrass people.” If you’re curious, you ask more questions. If you’re not, you won’t.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Poetics of Emplacement – Map 2

Emily Ronay Johnston, SRPR Managing Editor

This post is part of a series on SRPR’s ongoing and evolving conceptualization of the Poetics of Emplacement. What do we mean by Poetics of Emplacement? SRPR’s editor, contributing editors, staff members and friends share their thoughts here.

As Kirstin Hotelling Zona (SRPR Editor) writes, “A poetics of emplacement is interested in borders and thus borderlands: beings and ways of being that are often overlooked.” A poetics of emplacement looks—looks over, looks beyond knowing and into the generative realm of wonder. Knowing becomes a beginning, a starting point, not the destination. The destination, rather, is rupture. I am totally on board with not knowing. I mean, how cool is it to have permission to write my way into rupture rather than out of it, avoiding messy-ness at all costs?! When I need to light a fire under my intellect, to override that insatiable addiction to knowledge, I turn to Rumi, Jelaluddin Balkhi. His poetry emplaces me squarely in temporality, in permeability, calling us (human beings) to house the guests of our emotions, regardless of their actions in and through our beings, to “Welcome and entertain them all!/Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,/who violently sweep your house/empty of its furniture” (from “The Guest House”). We mustn’t stop at emotion, though. A poetics of emplacement beckons us to welcome the violence of emotionality, not to indulge in suffering, but quite the opposite: to love. To be sure, “The door there/is devastation.//Birds make great sky-circles/of their freedom./How do they learn it?//They fall, and falling,/they’re given wings” (from “On Children Running Through”). We might say that a poetics of emplacement is not only “interested in” that which is overlooked, it is also the road there, the looking beyond itself, the surrender to being “filled with you [love]./Skin, blood, bone, brain, and soul” (from “We Three”).

Emily Johnston's PicEmily is from Boston, San Francisco, Fairbanks, Alaska, and Central Illinois. Holding a Ph.D. in English Studies and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing/Poetry, her work emerges at the intersections of writing studies, social justice pedagogy, trauma theory, film theory, and narrativity. In particular, she researches and publishes on students’ literacy learning in relation to issues of sexualized trauma. She has taught courses in academic writing, public writing, creative writing, gender studies, literature and film, and English as a Second Language. Emily is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Writing Pedagogy at The University of Delaware, and Managing Editor of Spoon River Poetry Review (SRPR).

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •