In this discussion of Douglas Crase and Emersonian poetics, Kylan Rice considers how poetry can help us “locate the algorithms that have given contour to our present reality, including its environmental, political, military, and economic dimensions.” What does it mean to “think like a planet” on a planet that has been altered by “endless production and consumption?” How can a “minuteman poetics” serve as a “militia musket mustered in the common defense” when the “common real” has been fracked into polluted usage? Rice suggests that by speaking from a position suitable to “a science-baffling star” Crase’s newest poetry shows some ways in which Emerson’s legacy could lead to “embracing an evolutionary sublime that in turn embraces the Anthropocene as a cosmic expression on the way to becoming ‘something else.’”
This is an essay of ambitious scope and suggestion. It offers a vision of poetry’s potential relationship to reality after a period marked by an “autopoetic turn” and serves as an overview of two new books by Crase, whose previous collection of poetry, The Revisionist, was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1981. “Crase is that rare figure in American letters: a subversive who challenges the received wisdom promulgated in English and American literature departments from sea to shining sea,” John Yau recently wrote; he’s a writer whose work “occupies an expansive, complex space that needs to be recognized.” Rice’s essay explores the significance of that space—with one eye primed by galactic space’s vaster vantages.