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Anthony Cody writes:

The deeper I journey into ecopoetry, the more I find myself returning to the work of the late Chicanx poet, Francisco X Alarcón. His poetry has a cosmic, ethereal spirituality that transcends past, present, and future, and often blends English, Spanish, and Nahuatl to create an inclusive and ancestral terrain in each poem. It is in this critical and timeless interconnectedness that his poem Jaguar continues to resonate for me as an elegy toward the loss of the living and the sacred, but also the resolve to find ways to resist, re-imagine, and remain.

Within the Anthropocene, we are experiencing the destruction of flora, fauna, the displacement of people and villages, as well as the destruction of indigenous lands and heritage sites. These impacts are felt disproportionately across those lacking economic access and within Black, Indigenous, and communities of color. This link between climate, economic, and racial justice intersects within Alarcón’s Jaguar to allow us to see a broader connection that asks us to look toward understanding the jaguar as both an endangered animal and a cultural and psychic representation that complicates and contextualizes anthropocentric loss.

It is in that same sense interconnectedness that binds each of us to the flora, fauna, earth, water, sky, and one another, that I find myself inspired by other art in creating Analog Jaguar Digitization Forest Canopy. Specifically, the visual work of Eadweard Muybridge and U.S. poet laureate emeritus Juan Felipe Herrera.

I am continually drawn toward the images of Eadweard Muybridge and his efforts to document animal movement. So much so, that when I re-visited Jaguar, I was reminded of Muybridge’s Jaguar walking then turning around, which depicts a captive jaguar, in 1887, pacing in an almost perpetual caging across a series of stills. To see such a revered creature, held captive, unsettles and compels me to write toward finding ways to liberate the jaguar. Rather than generate a direct re-imagining of

Alarcón’s poem, I found myself considering conversations that I have had with Juan Felipe Herrera around the use of a single line to generate a poem within our own current work. Recently, Juan Felipe and I have been working with the concept of the ‘infinite poem’, in which the title serves as the root line that all stanzas flow and build directly from in the poem. This flow or building can be fully formed stanzas, or free associations, that offer the opportunity to write, in theory, infinitely. To further honor Alarcón, who often wrote poems that could be read left to right and up and down, I chose to create an infinite poem that could be read left to right, up and down, and from the ‘center’, root line, out.

Analog Jaguar Digitization Forest Canopy serves as an incantation site toward the preservation and liberation of the root animal and being. So that despite the Anthropocene’s efforts to eradicate the source, the ancestral, the memory, and path forward, we can find infinite ways to sustain and build toward greater truths and new futures.

Jaguar. Jaguar. Jaguar. Jaguar. Jaguar.

Anthony Cody is from Fresno, California with lineage in the Bracero Program and Dust Bowl. His debut collection, Borderland Apocrypha (Omnidawn 2020), won a 2021 American Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Award, PEN America / Jean Stein Award, and L.A. Times Book Award, among others.


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