"Working through the mouth is harder" - towards a vegan poetics

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In the poems that follow I call on the subversive potential of poetic form to destabilise narratives and vocabularies of meat production, species hierarchies and the concept of the human. This forms part of my PhD project, a verse collection inspired by NASA's Golden Record, the archive of cultural data mounted aboard the Voyager probes. The Record is a provocative object for an emerging theory of the vegan, for while it purports to enshrine “typical”, exploitative human-animal relations it is implicitly an alien artefact, intended for a recipient with no prior understanding of these categories. Among the pieces I will read are: “Working through the mouth is harder”, a found poem derived from the desensitised language of an online guide to slaughtering and butchering; “CHIPS ARE RAD”, a found poem based on the text of a Chipotle burrito wrapper, which attempts to re-appropriate its calculatedly “artless”, effusive and irregularly printed fragments for the purposes of a post-human subjectivity; “Typical humanimal”, a poem on the politics of perspective in a photograph of a hunter teaching his son to spear a cornered gemsbok; and “Fossil Record”, a poem that reduces life on Earth to a farcically protracted mathematical equation in which individuals are incessantly brutalised, taking its cue from Geoffrey Hill's suggestion in The Triumph of Love that we may “possess and destroy / by numbers".
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2017
EventTowards a vegan theory - University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Duration: 31 May 201631 May 2016


ConferenceTowards a vegan theory
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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