Ecocritical Reading and Robert Duncan’s Bending the Bow

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This essay presents an argument for the benefits of using an ecocritical perspective to read a poet who is not easily included in the canon of environmental literature—Robert Duncan. First surveying the state of ecocritical approaches to poetry, the essay focuses on Duncan’s Bending the Bow, a volume widely seen to be about the war in Vietnam, and argues that Duncan is substantially engaged in reflecting on the relationship of the subjective to the natural. In readings of three poems, the essay takes up questions of the human voice and the natural world, the role of nature in the construction of homosexuality, and the impact of environmental awareness on the shape of an organic form poem.


This article was originally published in Journal of Ecocriticism, volume 4, issue 1, in 2012.

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Journal of Ecocriticism