Between Backyard Swamps and the Cosmos: Place, Space, and the Intersubjective Mesh in the Poetry of Manoel de Barros

  • Malcolm K. McNee Smith College
Keywords: Brazilian poetry, ecocriticism, ecocritical theory, ecopoetry


 This essay proposes a reading of the poetry of Manoel de Barros oriented by deconstructive turns in contemporary ecocritical theory and debates on the meanings of eco-poetry as a critical designation. I consider the tension between place-based referentiality and abstract spaciousness in Barros’ work as well as the resonance between its microcosmic scenes of abjection, decay and trans guration and ecocritic Timothy Morton’s notion of

the intersubjective mesh as the fundamental basis of ecological thinking. While an aura of conservation politics and place-making referentiality can certainly be intuited in Barros’ poetic figurations of Pantanal landscapes, flora, and fauna, I argue that the force of meaning of his ambient poetics is most substantially to be found in their sustained imagining of intersubjectivity and its unsettling ontological and ethical effects.