"Pasto sin fin del basurero": Trash and Disposal in the Poetry of Jose Emilio Pacheco.

Citation metadata

Author: Micah McKay
Date: Jan-June 2020
From: Latin American Literary Review(Vol. 47, Issue 93)
Publisher: Latin American Literary Review
Document Type: Article
Length: 8,128 words
Lexile Measure: 1670L

Document controls

Main content

Abstract :

Within the vast body of poetry written by José Emilio Pacheco (Mexico, 1939-2014), there is a clear and profound engagement with environmental themes, such as the lives and experiences of non-human animals and the effects of pollution on natural environments. In this essay, I examine a series of Pacheco's poems that reflect on the production of trash and the act of disposal. Through his consideration of the waste that humans produce, Pacheco manages to draw our attention to the centrality of garbage as a socio-material element that mediates relationships between humans and the more-than-human environment. By reading Pacheco's poetry through the lens of waste and disposal, I argue that the trash in his work throws into relief three central concerns of contemporary ecological thought: 1) the difficulty of squaring Western, anthropocentric notions of time with planetary timescales; 2) the uneven exposure of certain bodies to varying levels of toxicity; and 3) the vulnerability of humans in the face of ecological crisis. In this sense, I contend that Pacheco's poetry constitutes a significant aesthetic contribution to our attempts to think through notions like the Anthropocene, which, in essence, elevates the waste produced by (certain) humans to the status of epoch-defining actor. In short, Pacheco's poetry helps us channel our energy toward dealing with a world full of trash. KEYWORDS: José Emilio Pacheco, trash, discard studies, ecocriticism, Anthropocene

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A626205535