Chapters, Articles, Presentations

Chapters in Edited Collections

“The Work of Literature in a Multispecies World.” The Educational Significance of Non-human Animals and Human Animal Interactions, Edited by Suzanne Rice and A. G. Rud, Palgrave MacMillan, 2015, pp. 133-149.

From the introduction:

In Chapter 8, Aaron Moe also discusses literature in relation to human animals and non-human animals, but seeks to illuminate a rather different dimension of this relation. Moe discusses the literature classroom as a place where students can be encouraged to examine the lives of actual, biological animals. In this context, students may encounter literature that calls on them to rethink what are usually considered solely human attributes: “language, speech, culture, rhetoric, agency, poetics, intelligence.” The concept of zoopoetics figures importantly in Moe’s analysis and illustrates ways in which animal gestures and vocalizations contribute to the formal, as well as substantial content of literature, ranging from Walt Whitman to W. S. Merwin. A turkey-hen for Whitman is not simply a bird as Other, Moe argues, but has a bodily poetics different from, but also related to, human poetics. The boundary between turkey poetics and human poetics is porous, and not simple or static. Citing Kenneth Burke, Moe shows how these boundaries can function as “terministic screens,” where language selects a reality while deflecting other realities. Animal Studies today undermines the terministic screen of human-centric language and culture prevalent in the humanities. Moe invites us to read works that attend to other species, such as Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick or the poetry of Walt Whitman or Gary Snyder. Engaging students in such reading is one way in which we might help them to “cultivate a respectful attentiveness” to those among us with fins, feathers, or fur. 

“Poetics.” The Edinburgh Companion to Animal Studies, Edited by Lynn Turner, Undine Sellbach, and Ron Broglio, Edinburgh University Press, Forthcoming.

“The Zoopoetics of Roethke’s ‘The Pike.’” A Field Guide to the Poetry of Theodore Roethke, Edited by William Barillas. Forthcoming.


Journal Articles

“Thirteen Ways of Reading EEC’s R-O-U-N-D MoOn and the Making of a Poem.” Spring: The Journal of the    E. E. Cummings Society, vol. 21–22, 2014-2015, pp. 199–211.

“Telling an Animal’s Story from a ‘Human’ Point of View: Affective Neuroscience and the Objective Correlative.” Kudzu House Quarterly, vol. 4, no. 2, 2014, pp. 23–26.

This piece places a close reading of Philip Levine’s “Animals are Passing from our Lives” in the context of Jaak Panksepp’s work on affective neuroscience as well as T. S. Eliot’s objective correlative. Panksepp has provided a substantial “weight of evidence” concerning how mammals share seven primal emotions, including GRIEF/PANIC, PLAY, and RAGE. Levine’s poem creates several images that evoke these emotive states shared by humans, pigs, squirrels, and other mammals. And so, even though Levine projects thoughts into the pig’s mental space, those thoughts/images prompt the reader to identify with the pig’s emotive state moments before he is slaughtered. The poem, then, tells the pig’s story not from a ‘human’ point of view; rather it is from a mammal point of view.

“Toward a Zoopolis: Animal Poiesis and the Poetry of Emily Dickinson and Brenda Hillman.” Forum for World Literature Studies, Edited by Scott Slovic, Special Issue on Animality and Ecocriticism, vol. 6, no. 1, 2014, pp. 50–67.

The poetry of Emily Dickinson and Brenda Hillman casts nonhuman animals as part of the polis. Their perspective resonates with the emergent animal rights theory, explored by Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka, that draws on political theory in order to rethink animal-human relationships in what they call the zoopolis. Dickinson and Hillman’s perspective further informs the zoopolis. For both poets, animals have earned their place in a multispecies polis because of the self-evident manifestations of their alternative ways-of-making. Such poetry calls for expanding both the poetic tradition and the polis to include other animal makers. Whereas my book focuses on Hillman’s Practical Water, this article explores her 2013 Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire.

“Toward Zoopoetics: Rethinking Whitman’s ‘original energy.’” Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, vol. 31, no. 1, 2013, pp. 1–17.

Here, I demonstrate that zoopoetics is not a minor event in American poetry of the long 20th century, for I highlight how zoopoetics is at work in the very genesis of Whitman’s poetic vision: “original energy.” Whitman’s poetics of the body is not limited to the human; rather, nonhuman animals also generate and respond to the material energy of the body.  I argue that Whitman’s poetic vision is consanguineous with Kennedy’s theory of a universal (human & nonhuman) rhetoric founded on the rhetorical energy of the body.  Moreover, I demonstrate how Whitman discovered some of his most innovative breakthroughs in poetic form through an attentiveness to another species’ bodily poiesis.

“Zoopoetics: A Look at Cummings, Merwin, & the Expanding Field of Ecocriticism.” Humanimalia: A Journal of Human/Animal Interface Studies, vol. 3, no. 2, 2012,

This essay introduces a more thorough understanding of zoopoetics into literary discourse. Zoopoetics, in short, is a perspective that exposes how the agency of nonhuman animals are handled in a text. Though the notion of “agency” can have many possible facets, I focus on an agency that arises from how nonhuman animals are imaginative, rhetorical, and cultural beings. The second half of the essay, then, applies zoopoetics to close readings of texts by Cummings and Merwin.

“An Ontological Crisis: Rethinking E. E. Cummings’ Fairy Tales.Spring: The Journal of the E. E. Cummings Society, vol. 20, 2012, pp. 50–65.

When scholars discuss Cummings’ Fairy Tales, they normally focus on the biographical context: Cummings wrote three of them for his daughter when she didn’t know he was his dad, and one of them, presumably, for his grandchild. This essay exposes, though, how many of the crucial tropes throughout Cummings’ life long vision emerge in an early tale in surprising ways.

“Cummings’ Urban Ecology: An Exploration of EIMI, No Thanks, & the Cultivation of the Ecological Self.” Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, vol. 18, no. 4, 2011, pp. 737–762.

In this article, I expose how EIMI documents Cummings’ cultivation of an ecological self within the cities of New York, Paris, Moscow, Odessa, Kiev, and Istanbul…and how No Thanks continues the thematic exploration of two ideas:  1)  the liminal space between SHUTNESS & OPENNESS; and 2)  the individual’s cultivation of an interrelated self in an urban context.  Cummings’ i is often seen as a statement of individuality, but my read locates the i as a continuation of Whitman’s all-encompassing and ever-expanding self.

“Two Converging Motifs: E. E. Cummings’ l!ook.” Spring: The Journal of the E. E. Cummings Society, vol. 18, 2011, pp. 118–133.

This is by no means an exhaustive look at Cummings’ use of the exclamation mark and the motif of look within his work; however, it does a good job of establishing the dialogical interplay between these two ideas. The essay makes three moves: 1) it explores both motifs; 2) it explores their explicit convergence and, in turn, the implicit implications; and 3) it locates this discussion within an ecocritical context.

“Autopoiesis & Cummings’ Cat.” Rupkatha Journal: On Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, vol. 3, no.1, 2011, pp. 110–20.   

I dedicate this article to my students, who discovered the cat’s flips and taught me how to look. For quite some time, I thought that Cummings’ grasshopper poem outperformed any other experiment Cummings created. Now, however, I am not so sure. The essay employs a two fold approach to Cummings’ cat poem: 1) a close reading of the poem from the perspective of chaos theory; and 2) a discussion of the thematic implications of the poem’s conflation of ! with the lowercase i.

“Chaos & the ‘New’ Nature Poem: A Look at E. E. Cummings’ Poetry.” CT Review, vol. 32, no. 1, 2010, pp. 11–24.

This article establishes several key terms from chaos theory including (dis)order, turbulence, feedback loops, autopoiesis, and complexity, and then it demonstrates how the language of chaos theory electrifies a close reading of Cummings’ visual poems.  Each of the visual poems explored epitomize an extreme upheaval of language, but an underlining and inscrutable pattern (a deep structure) paradoxically infuses the linguistic ruptures.  Cummings draws the reader’s attention to the details of nature through his innovative crafting of the details of language–but it is a language intensified by the harmonious tension between order and disorder.  The coexistence of (dis)order epitomizes chaos, and well before Edward Lorenz’s discovery of the flap of the butterfly wing, Cummings had already delved deeply into the chaotic flux of language.

“Poetry & Expanding the Ecological Self: A Contextualization of Cummings’ Typographies within the Modernist Ecological Vision.” Spring: The Journal of the E. E. Cummings Society, vol. 16, 2007, pp. 134–155.

Despite the fact that innovative experimentation marks many modernist texts, Cummings is still sometimes categorized as a periphery figure.  Like Eliot, Stein, Pound, and Lowell, Cummings developed a unique poetics built around a play within the oxymoron “fragmentary wholeness.” However, “Poetry & Expanding the Ecological Self” seeks to contextualize Cummings within what has been called the greener side of modernism.  Using Arne Naess’ idea of ecological identification, the article explores how the language of many modernist writers, including Cummings, nudges the reader into an awareness of the interconnections within the fabric of the earth.


Protean Poetics. Parapoetics Series, Edited by Ida Benke, Broken Dimanche Press, 2015.

Broken Dimanche Press published Protean Poetics as a leaflet in the parapoetics series. Comprised of 84 aphorisms, Protean Poetics follows the “nameless yeast” of Moby-Dick in order to hold on to Proteus, but not with an aim to conquer, or to map, or to cage. Rather, the project seeks to discover what might open up in the unstable genre of aphorism, with its freedom to leap, linger, and leap again.

“A Response to Zoopoetics.” In Quire: Progressive Poetics, Edited by Harvey Hix, 01 May 2015,


Creative Nonfiction

“Trees, Ecophilia, & Ecophobia: A Look at Arboriculture along the Front Range Cities of Colorado.” The Journal of Ecocriticism: A New Journal of Nature, Society, and Literature, vol. 3, no. 2, 2011, pp. 72–82.

Though I revised this piece while at Washington State University, I originally wrote it when living in Colorado, working as a teacher, an arborist, and yet pursuing a scholarly career. Elements from each of these facets of my life emerge in the article as it blends personal narrative and ecocritical theories into what I hope is a provocative exploration of living with trees in an urban context. As (perhaps) expected (for people who know me), I sprinkle ideas from Merwin, Cummings, and Whitman into the conversation as well.

Reviews and Short Pieces

“A Review of Paul Waldau’s Animal Studies: An Introduction.” The Journal of Ecocriticism: A New Journal of Nature, Society, and Literature, vol. 6, no. 1, 2014.

“Teaching Guide for Animals and People.” Orion Magazine, January 2014.

“A Review of Ann Fisher-Wirth and Laura-Gray Street’s The Ecopoetry Anthology.The Journal of Ecocriticism: A New Journal of Nature, Society, and Literature, vol. 5, no. 2, 2013, pp. 1–2.

“‘Wreading’ Merwin: A Review of Until Everything is Continuous Again: American Poets on the Recent Work of W. S. Merwin.Merwin Studies: Poetry | Poetics | Ecology, Edited by Aaron M. Moe and Rebecca L. Stull, 15 March 2013,   

“A Review of Etienne Terblanche’s E. E. Cummings: Poetry and Ecology.” Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, vol. 20, no. 1, 2013, pp. 202–203.

“Kincaid and Linnaeus Fistfight in Heaven.” The Colors of Nature Teacher’s Guide, Complied by Lauret Savoy and Alison Deming, Milkweed Editions, 2013.

“A Review of Iain Landles’ The Case for Cummings: A Reaction to the Critical Misreading of E. E. Cummings.” Spring: The Journal of the E. E. Cummings Society, vol. 17, 2010, pp. 149–151.



“Toward a Poetics of Gaia: Biosemiotics and Jody Gladding’s Translations of Bark Beetle.” Association for the Study of Literature and Environment and Literature. Panel proposal with Anna Banks, Scott Slovic, Debbie Lee, and Courtney Kersten. Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. June 2017.

“Biosemiotics and Cummings’ Poetry and Poetics.” American Literature Association. Boston, MA. May 2017.

“Selections from ‘Holding on to Proteus.” Faculty Colloquium. Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN. January 2017

“Holding on to Proteus; or, Toward a Poetics of Gaia.” Symposium on Texts, Animals, Environments: Zoopoetics and Environmental Poetics. Hannover, Germany. October 2016.

“Cummings’ Protean Punctuation.” The Louisville Conference on Literature & Culture Since 1900. Louisville, KY. February 2016.

“The Protean Poetics of Spiders and Seeds.” Association for the Study of Literature and Environment. University of Idaho, June 2015.

“Ears to the Ground: Ecological Poetry of the Anthropocene.” Panel Chair. Association for the Study of Literature and Environment. University of Idaho, June 2015.

“The Zoopoetics of Whitman and Cummings.” American Literature Association. Boston, MA. May 2013.

“The Zoopoetics of a Multispecies Polis: Brenda Hillman’s Practical Water.” Border/lands: An Interdisciplinary Ecocritical Graduate Conference. Moscow, ID. April 2013.

“Zoopoetics.” WSU English Department Colloquium Series. Pullman, WA. January 2013.

“Writer as Cyborg; or, ‘the Making obsession’: Whitman, Cummings, & Teaching Textual Delivery in the Technical & Professional Classroom.” American Literature Association. San Francisco, CA. May 2012.

“Special Issues: Scholarly Journals at the Edge (a Roundtable)” American Literature Association. San Francisco, CA. May 2012.

“Political Economy, the Animal, and the Poet.” Pacific Northwest American Studies Association. Vancouver, WA. April 2011.

“The Poem, the Reader, & the Poetics of Intertextuality: A Look at W. S. Merwin’s ‘Tale.’” The University of Idaho Graduate Literature Conference. Moscow, ID. March 2011.

“Merwin’s Whales: Reassessing the Judeo-Christian Origin of Entitlement.” The Louisville Conference on Literature & Culture Since 1900. Louisville, KY. February 2011.

“Autopoiesis & Cummings’ Cat: An Exploration of ‘(im)c-a-t(mo).’” The Louisville Conference on Literature & Culture Since 1900. Louisville, KY. February 2011.

“Two Converging Motifs: E. E. Cummings’ l!ook.” American Literature Association. San Francisco, CA. May 2010.

“Chaos & Cummings’ ‘New’ Nature Poem.” Southwest Popular Culture and American Culture Association. Albuquerque, NM. February 2009.

“The Fecundity of Poststructural Chaos: An Essay on E. E. Cummings’ Poetry.” The Louisville Conference on Literature & Culture Since 1900. Louisville, KY. February 2008.

“Patterns of Chaos: Thinking Critically about E. E. Cummings’ Poetry.” The National Core Knowledge Conference for Secondary Teachers. Anaheim, CA. November 2008.



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