49th Shelf Most Anticipated Spring 2015 Poetry Selection
Fracking—tar-sand runoff—dirty oil extraction. This is the language of our oil-addicted 21st-century society: incredibly invasive, blatant in its purpose, and richly embedded in mythological and archetypal symbolism. The ultimate goal of the industry: To core the underworld.
Endangered Hydrocarbons, Lesley Battler’s first full-length collection of poetry, shows that the language of hydrocarbon extraction, with its blend of sexual imagery, archetype, science, pseudoscience, and the purely speculative, can be as addictive as the resource it pursues.
Using pastiche and wordplay, Battler shines a floodlight on the absurdity and pervasiveness of production language in all areas of human life in the oil fields, including art, culture, and politics. Incorporating texts generated by a multinational oil company, and spliced with a variety of found material (video games, home decor magazines, works by Henry James and Carl Jung), Battler deliberately tampers with her sources, treating them as crude oil—excavating, mixing, and drilling these texts to emulate extraction processes used by the industry.
With traces of Dennis Lee’s Testament, Larissa Lai’s Automaton Biographies, and Adam Dickinson’s The Polymers, this lively and refreshing take on a polarizing topic will resonate with readers of contemporary poetry who connect with environmental issues and capitalist critique.