Culpability and Nature-Nature Infractions in Select Poems in Tanure Ojaide’s Narrow Escapes: A Poetic Diary of the Coronavirus Pandemic
Keywords:nature-nature infractions, Tanure Ojaide, culpability , Lawrence Buell, anthropocentric recklessness , nonhuman nature
In literary imaginings, the infraction of the law by human and nonhuman agents manifests in different planes and character. With a pathology-inclined compass, this study argues that the representation of culpability for the infraction of natural law in Tanure Ojaide’s poetry emanates mainly from the intentionality of human agents and intersects with the unintentionality of nonhuman nature. In the instance of nature-nature infractions, a first-cause anthropocentric infraction by humans intersects with a second-cause infraction from the nonhuman agents, thereby creating the binary of intentional and unintentional culpability. Tanure Ojaide, in Narrow Escape: A Poetic Diary of the Coronavirus Pandemic (2021), chronicles the themes of agonies arising from anthropocentric recklessness and abuse of the ecosystem, which result in nature-nature infractions and the subsequent culpability. With poignant imagery and electrifying fluidity, Ojaide presents a litany of the havoc wreaked by human agents and the nonhuman coronavirus on the physical and biological environments. This litany is expressed through tones of lamentation and caution. The cautionary notes evince hope in the midst of the pathological miasma that assumed a threshold in 2019. Lawrence Buell’s eco-critical view is chosen because it locates anthropocentric negligence and ignorance as liable reasons for the breakdown of law and order in nature. Therefore, in causing the pandemic, sickness, and death, anthropocentrism as well as the coronavirus are shown to be culpable of homicide in the selected poems.
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