Antarctica Poetica

Professor Leslie Carol Roberts
Chair, CCA MFA in Writing Program

My ongoing research and writing work focus on how we place ourselves in a landscape and what we do when we get there – with a particular lens on places deemed wild and free. While my first Antarctic book looks at the region through the lens of the humanities – The Entire Earth and Sky: Views on Antarctica (Nebraska) and starts a conversation about how we know and understand The Ice through story – subsequent books will broaden and expand on this lens. I have lived in and around the Antarctic for more than three months and have documented The Ice and the people and their activities through extensive photography. My expanded Antarctic project, Antarctica Poetica looks equally at the political science of the region as well as the poetics. There is perhaps more political writing than poetic writing about the region which is, in and of itself, bizarre. The peculiar way humans identify with the poles – since the time of the Ancient Greeks – continues to fascinate me, from stories of how the poles are “holes” leading to worlds within worlds, to global political regimes that allow any traveler to make landfall on the continent and to travel about without passport or currency. Late 20th century political protest and legal work to create a commons of the Antarctic and the recent moves to create a marine sanctuary in the Ross Sea equally drive my inquiries, as does my own obsession with the materiality of human exploration through ephemera such as postcards, brochures, books, and other printed matter.