Symbiont: 50 Sonnets by Dominic Hand (Veer Books)

Tears in the Fence

The emphasis in the environmental sciences nowadays is less on Darwinian competitiveness than on how organisms interact synergically in complex systems. Meantime old concepts of nature have steadily been eroded, both by posthumanism and the recognition of the Anthropocene. Changes have consequently been due in nature writing, which can often still be structured around the human, personal and agonistic. Since language itself is structured that way – subjects and accusatives, persons and possessives – it’s no easy project, but one which innovative poetries – more willing than the mainstream to radically disrupt conventions – have so far had most success in undertaking.

Dominic Hand’s ecopoetics is particularly inventive and visually dramatic. His sonnets’ full justification, small font, lower case and lack of punctuation mean they appear as striated squares, like something blockily manufactured. The same features make them a dizzying and dense read: each poem a single sentence whose clausal…

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