Life without Air by Daisy Lafarge review – ecological poetry

A fierce and clear-eyed debut that finds a fresh way to explore humankind’s role in environmental chaos

The novelist and poet Daisy Lafarge’s TS Eliot prize shortlisted debut collection offers a fresh kind of ecological poetry, one that merges a lyric voice and an experimental sensibility to meet the complicated reality of our contemporary moment. Life Without Air makes a multitude of connections between human beings and the world of the non-human. However, unlike with some more traditional nature poetry, Lafarge does not use the environment as just a backdrop, or fodder for metaphor. Rather, this is a work of true interrelation, albeit one that never falls into easy or holistic union. Her long poem “Dredging the Baotou Lake” considers a lake in Inner Mongolia, poisoned by the mineral mining that feeds our technologies. For Lafarge, this site opens up the unsettling and toxic links between human affect, capitalist oppression and environmental chaos:

… lest we forget
the screen of your phone

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