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Ecopoetics, enjoyment and ecstatic hospitality

This essay begins by outlining the concept of ‘deep sustainability’, which introduces a bio-inclusive environmental ethic into current scientific models of sustainability as a nested system, whereby the economy is understood to serve society, which is in turn situated within Earth’s life-support system . Deep sustainability entails recognition of the creative agency, communicative capacity and ethical considerability of nonhuman as well as human beings, in accordance with a principle of transpecies justice and, in ecophilospher Freya Mathews’ terms, ‘bio-proportionality’. Here I argue that the cultural practice of deep sustainability necessitates both the redirection of desire away from compulsive consumerism and towards forms of ‘alternative hedonism’, as well as the cultivation of an ethos of radical hospitality towards more-than-human others, so many of whom are being unhoused by climatic and other forms of environmental change. In order to consider how literature might help to foster such radically hospitable as well as deeply pleasurable practices, I bring a material ecocritical perspective to the nest poetry of the English Romantic John Clare and the ecopoetic field work of contemporary writer and ecologist, David Morley.

in Literature and sustainability