This practice-based project considers cultural constructions of flightless birds and initiates this topic as significant through original poetry. Through an ecocritical lens, it selects for exploration and analysis aspects of existing poetry, mythology, literature and art showcasing or including the emu, ostrich and great auk. As patterns emerge in the data, the original poetry arises as a dynamic response to recurring cultural concepts. My poetry borrows, resists, challenges and jumps off from these concepts through a creative process.  The question of incomplete dualities drives and shapes the project’s thinking, inviting me to consider and express myself in these terms. I use my poetry as a way of speaking forth elements of gendered experience which resist the rigidities of disciplinary discourse; the figure of the flightless bird acts as a muted other looking for a place of articulation, and in its chronicles, especially its disasters of extinction, mockery, mutilation and death, I make poetry which not only addresses both the plight and place of these birds, but which also rehearses an allied concern with forms of failure or lack in human interactions.  Against the backdrop of a cultural understanding of flightless birds which can be figured as analogous to those conceptual frameworks which characterise sexism, speciesism and ableism, theoretical ideas inform and infuse the poetry, but never appear as fixed or dogmatic standpoints within it: the ideas are interrogated through the creative practice. The writing, immediate and playful, moves towards precision obliquely, showing the ecofeminist frameworks it alludes to in a prismatic way. The work situates the reader as a participant in the energy of the poem – shifting voices, perspectives, tenses and discourses to destabilise the obvious, the polemical, the prescriptive, and to re-absorb the reader’s attention from point to point. The poetry invokes a number of competing and disparate discourses, using scientific, taxonomic, zoological descriptions to estrange and enrich its representations. Autobiography is present in the form of memories which can emerge in the weft of the poem, and sometimes very specific cultural references offer another way of giving the poetry an energetic and richly startling power. A wit of dissonance and incongruity is another way in which the poetry resists settling into cliché or stasis. Deeply interested in animal and human physicality, the poems have sometimes an erotic charge, and they always begin from a standpoint that resists presumptions of power, hierarchy, or condescension.

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