In the 'Fissures of Infrastructure': Poetry and Toxicity in 'Garbage Arcadia'

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article offers an account of “toxic infrastructures” as mutually material and discursive arrangements operating in the postwar, postcrash, and settler colonial landscapes of the United States. It specifically responds to Jennifer Scappettone’s multimodal poetic work The Republic of Exit 43, developed after the author’s discovery that the industrial landfill site she grew up alongside in New York had been classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as requiring federal intervention. Tracing Scappettone’s poetic geographies from the “corporate dump” of Syosset Landfill to the more (in)famous waste site Fresh Kills, the article argues that Scappettone exposes the ways that certain bodies and ecologies are rendered physically and conceptually toxic and implicates readers in the uneven social, embodied, and ecological conditions of composition and response. It suggests that Scappettone’s practices of collage, salvage, and collaborative performance destabilize lyric subjectivity to address a “garbage arcadia” compounding the material accumulations of US consumerism and neoliberal financialization with longer processes of dispossession and displacement. Reading this text with feminist materialisms and Julian Talamantez Brolaski’s queer Indigenous poetry, the article considers how poetics might reckon with the material conditions and residues of uneven wasting and generate situated, critical, and relational approaches to toxic infrastructures
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-58
JournalEnvironmental Humanities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • poetics
  • toxic infrastructures
  • waste
  • transcorporeality
  • settler colonialism

Cite this