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Poetry Reading and Conversation at Millersville

MU will host author Julia Fiedorczuk for a look at the unique field of ecopoetics, a reading of her work and a Q&A session.

Millersville’s Department of English and World Languages is hosting internationally acclaimed poet and scholar of ecopoetics, Julia Fiedorczuk. Ecopoetics arose from the late 20th-century awareness of ecology and concerns over environmental disaster and emphasizes drawing connections between human activity—specifically the making of poems—and the environment that produces it. 

Fiedorczuk is a writer, poet, translator and researcher. As an academic, she is an associate professor at the Institute of English Studies and a co-founder of the Environmental Studies Center at the University of Warsaw. 

The event takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 2 p.m. in Ford Atrium. Fiedorczuk agreed to make Millersville a stop on her United States reading tour, which also includes Harvard. 

The website that Fiedorczuk co-curates defines ecopoetics in this way: “We understand ‘poetics’ as a making. ‘Ecopoetics’ is the making of a home involving not only humans but all forms of existence who share this universe. Poetry has a special place in this making because of its historical association with ancient ritualistic and magical practices (such as shamanism), its attunement to the natural rhythms of the Earth and the body (through prosody and the voice) and because of its inherently subversive character (as a linguistic practice counteracting the fossilization of language into cliches).”  

Ecopoetics is a multidisciplinary approach that includes thinking and writing on poetics, science and theory. “As a poetic practice, ecopoetics is a form of narrating reality that considers human interdependence with its environment as the most important factor of the storytelling,” says Dr. Katarzyna Jakubiak, associate professor of English. “Poets, like Fiedorczuk, who embrace this practice treat poetry as a form of environmental activism. For example, poems in Fiedorczuk’s most recent collection ‘Psalms,’ which she will read from, reflect on the human role in the contemporary world suffering from climate change, loss of biodiversity, humanitarian crises and ravages of war.” 

Another major characteristic of ecopoetics is the search for new forms of expression, or new language that would do away with calcified ways of thinking and foster new ideas; hence this form of writing is known for poetic experimentation. 

While speaking at Millersville, Fiedorczuk plans to read fragments of her novel “The House of Orion,” which partially engages with the migrant crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border, and the complicated relationship between this crisis and its setting in Bialowieza forest, one of the few remaining primeval forests in Europe.  Fiedorczuk witnessed the crisis unfold as she happened to be in Bialowieza in 2021, working on her novel. 

The reading will be followed by a conversation and Q&A, moderated by Jakubiak. 

Fiedorczuk’s academic publications include: “The Cyborg in The Garden: An Introduction to Ecocriticism” and, in collaboration with Gerardo Beltrán, “Ecopoetics: An Ecological Defence of Poetry.” As a poet and writer, she has published short stories, essays and novels as well as six poetry books.  

Her latest volume, “Psalms,” was awarded the prestigious Wisława Szymborska Award in Poland in 2018. Her work has been translated into more than 20 languages. Her books in English include “Oxygen” (2017) and “Psalms” (2023), both translated by Bill Johnston. 

Read selected poems from her latest book here.

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