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Title: Exile and ecology : the poetic practice of Gwyneth Lewis, Pascale Petit and Deryn Rees-Jones
Author: Brigley, Zoë
ISNI:       0000 0001 3480 1226
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2007
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In this thesis, I discuss how three poets with a connection to Wales, Gwyneth Lewis (born 1959), Pascale Petit (born 1953) and Deryn Rees-Jones (born 1968), develop their poetic practice beyond ordinary notions of home and belonging. Drawing on Wendy Wheeler's New Modernity? Change in Science, Literature and Politics, this project is described as a poetics of 'ecology,' using the broader meaning of the term, which refers not only to the study of plants and animals, but also to institutions and people in relation to their sense of place. I argue that Lewis, Petit and Rees-Jones promote an awareness of ecology or interconnectedness and they achieve this project by going beyond personal or individual concerns in a kind of poetic exile. This poetic exile entails the rejection of a 'whole' and 'bounded' selfhood and the acceptance of otherness or difference in one's own identity means that the boundaries between the self and other disintegrate or blur. I proceed in the general introduction to the thesis to consider the problems of modernity as described by Wheeler and I use her model to identify the melancholy modernity of R.S. Thomas; Dylan Thomas' poetic mourning; and the preoccupation with maternity in Gillian Clarke's poetry. Wheeler suggests that such phases emerge from anxiety about lost teleologies or insecurity of the ontological self, and ecology is the acceptance that human beings are never hermetically sealed, secure units. In the body of the thesis, I explore how Lewis, Petit and Rees-Jones exile themselves from ordinary selfhood to discover ecology with others. The chapter devoted to Le,vis discusses her commitment to decreation, a project that unravels the dominance of the centre over the margin through poems praising angels of the minor, the diminutive and the bathetic. The next chapter considers Petit's exile to Latin America and I argue that by interrogating the strangeness in other cultures, she forces Westem culture to recognise its own strangeness unravelling the clear distinction between 'civilised' and 'barbaric' cultures. Rees-Jones similarly focuses on the strangeness of the human self in her representation of liminal, marginal subjects, such as the clone passing for human. I conclude that the angel, Latin America and the clone are all poetic tropes by which these poets dissolve the oppositional binary of self versus other.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature