Steering to Surge: Poetics, Pedagogy, and Anthologizing in Ecocriticism 


(excerpt from the Introduction:)

 The goal here is to comprehend the inherent politics in anthologizing, and how canon-forming (and at times gate-keeping) have stifled the literature classroom and its educators in their teaching and the students’ learning. The methodology of this dissertation is an experiment in proximity – not a totalizing effort to construe one text as similar or dissimilar to the other, or to append the texts as solely fitted to a specific theoretical question. It is indeed a method of surprise: to form a triangulation of two (un)formed canons (Philippine ecopoetry and Canadian ecopoetry) with a theoretical question in ecopoetics … and to be critical of this proximity. As mentioned, this body of work will strive to have little to no presumption, expectation, or instrumentalization. Further, this dissertation is a practice of slow reading – of allowing the poems to speak for themselves as Gerald Graff (289) reminds critics and teachers: read the text on its own terms, and perhaps through a formal poetic analysis, we may engage with their individual singularities (a nod to Derek Attridge’s concept). It is an ecocritical triangulation that is responsive to and engaging with socio-historical moments but is not crippled by the world-at-large. The poem, in the end, still speaks for itself and is open to multiple interpretations – not only and solely an environmental one. 


Empire and Environment: Confronting Ecological Ruination in the Transpacific

editor, with Heidi Hong, Jeffrey Santa Ana, and Xiaojing Zhou (forthcoming with the University of Michigan Press, 2020)

The essays collected in Empire and Environment concern Asian, Pacific Islander, and North American cultural works in response to the impact of colonialism and imperialism on ecological collapse and the production of environmental knowledge. The collection offers a diverse array of writings and images that engage with the violent accrual of what Ann Laura Stoler has termed “imperial debris,”[i] which evidences “the wasted matter left over by the project of development” on a planetary scale.[ii] Empire and Environment illuminates and emphasizes histories of imperialism, colonialism, militarism, and global capitalism to show how these histories are integral to understanding representations of environmental violence that are revealed as imperial debris in the Asia-Pacific region. The book shows how Asian American and Pacific Islander cultural works communicate the devastating environmental costs and consequences of imperialism, colonialism, and capitalist development (and their maintenance and perpetuation through militarism) in the Asia-Pacific and the Americas. 


[i] Ann Laura Stoler, Imperial Debris: On Ruins and Ruination (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013).

[ii] Vyjayanthi Rao, “The Future in Ruins,” in Imperial Debris: On Ruins and Ruination, edited by Ann Laura Stoler (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013): 313.

Ecopoetics and the Myth of Motivated Form

co-author, with Greg Garrard (forthcoming in Close Reading in the Anthropocene, ed. Helena Feder, with Routledge Press, 2021)

I A Richards was one of the progenitors of practical criticism and close reading of literature. One of the failings, or ‘difficulties’, he identified in readers was a belief that poetic form could have effects independent of the semantic content of the poem. We review examples of support for what it calls ‘the myth of motivated form’ in ecopoetics alongside critiques of this view. We undertake close readings of two poems in which form and content are indissociable, and conclude with an argument for the importance of close reading within the eco-literacy curriculum.

ASLE-ASEAN organized the fantastic Tree

a steering to homes, or the ecopoetry of a migrant Filipinx

author, forthcoming with the annual ASLE-ASEAN journal publication, 2021

As of 2016, there are a recorded three million “documented” Filipinx migrants to countries all over the world. These growing numbers, increasing every year, have reflected the constantly changing landscape of the Filipinx identity - one that arguably has not yet been mapped with certainty due to years of oppression, colonisation, and, now, globalisation. These migrant Filipinx are often subjected to hardships and stereotypes that are perpetrated not only by their host countries, but also their fellow countrymen as well, which renders a major part of their experiences as a migrant “invisible.” Thus, this paper challenges the preconceived notions of a migrant Filipinx via the “homes” they have remapped on new landscapes within and beyond the country. I argue that Filipinx migrants are creating new “routes and roots” that are both fostering a new Filipinx identity and steering back to the Filipinx identity as they navigate their ways onto new landscapes.


Using Elizabeth DeLoughrey’s critique of “tidalectics,” which foregrounds “a dynamic method of geography that can elucidate island history and cultural production to provide frameworks that explore the complex and shifting entanglement between sea and land, diaspora and indigeneity, and routes and roots,” I aim to analyse an ecopoem each from Merlinda Bobis and Charlie Samuya Veric that both complicate the geographies of a Filipinx migrant. My hope is that in doing so, the multiplicities of landscapes that the Filipinx migrant experiences are amalgamated in a new environmental culture that is seen as an integral part of being a Filipinx - one that is not anymore solely centred on the homeland but recognises the possibilities of a new and innovative perspective to energise the current local and global environmental discourse.