Unsettling the American landscape: toward a phenomenological and onto-epistemological paradigm of hope in Diana Bellessi's and Mary Oliver's poetic works
The comparative study of the poetics of landscape of the Argentinian poet Diana Bellessi in Sur (1998) and the U.S. poet Mary Oliver in What Do We Know (2002) reveal how each writer acknowledges discourse and perception as means to bridge the nature/culture dichotomy and to unsettle the American landscape from cultural and epistemological assumptions that perpetuate the disconnection with matter. While Bellessi re–signifies the historical and cultural landscape drawn by European colonization in order to establish a dialogue with the voices of the past related to a present–day quest to reconnect with nature, Oliver articulates an ontological and phenomenological expression to reformulate prevailing notions of cognizing materiality aiming to overcome the culture
ature divide. I therefore examine the interrelationship between perception, language and nature in Bellessi’s and Oliver’s poetic works by deploying Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological theory of perception into material feminist theoretical works by Karen Barad and Susan Hekman. In so doing, I demonstrate how both poets act on language to forge a non–dualistic expression that, in allowing matter as an agentic force that relates with humans in dynamics of mutual impact and intra–activity, entails a phenomenological and onto–epistemological approach to ground language in materiality and produce ethical discursive practices to relate with nature. I argue that Bellessi’s and Oliver’s approach toward nature proves as necessary in the articulation of efforts leading to overcome the nature/culture dichotomy and thus, to address ecological and environmental concerns.