Stewart, Ida Dorothy
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This essay and collection of poems explore how the semantic, sonic, and formal texture of language—the roughness around its edges—is deeply connective and thus ecological, and how attention to the material and ecological qualities of poetic language can forge immediate, meaningful connections between a reader/writer and the world, and bridge the disjunction between sign and signified, art and nature, lover and beloved, presence and loss. The poems make pathways through linguistic landscapes, in which loss and the unknown are variously abstracted and concretized. The poems find a formal model for the paradox of connection in the figure of a mine, which is both an impasse and a joint between the human, natural, and industrial. Drawing from a diverse array of primary texts, the essay investigates the way language plays/splays across the gaps between public discourse and more private and idiomatic expressions and manifestations of grief, loss, and absence. Specifically, the essay engages with the language of the coal mining industry—a language of power in Appalachia—to understand how language, not just negligent mine safety and engineering practices, contributes to disasters and what we make of them.