As guest-editor this month, I was fortunate to have published a small selection of stunning, future-facing poems from Astropolis (Haverthorn Press, 2018) by Astra Papachristodoulou earlier this month. I also asked Astra if she would write a small piece on Astropolis, which she has kindly done.
The methodology of Astropolis
The utopian futuristic designs in Neo-Futuristic architecture constantly invent new technological procedures to minimising consumption, and harvesting of renewable systems with the purpose of securing a better future. A new poetic launch of Neo-Futurism visualises eco-sensibility and ecological recovery through technological means, as seen in Neo-Futuristic architecture, and challenges the existing ecopoetic approaches. Unlike Italian and Russian Futurism, Neo-Futurism is not tied to specific political views, but rather approaches the world from an ecological perspective that is simultaneously global and could advise the cosmological predictions of Stephen Hawking that the future of humanity on Earth is under threat due to climate change and diminishing natural resources, thus suggesting humans eventually colonising other planets. Within this context, my thought experiment Astropolis aspires to materialise this idea, influenced, but not restricted to, Futurism and architectural Neo-Futurism, while visualising ecological recovery through technology, despite the paradox surrounding this idea. Astropolis, a variety of concrete and free-verse poems, is written in response to Neo-Futuristic architecture including the buildings of Zaha Hadid, Santiago Calatrava and Frank Gehry, and takes inspiration from Gavin Selerie whose poetic strategies often involve creating visual-verbal experience in mosaic-like structures. Astropolis is accompanied by the Neo-Futurist Manifesto (pub. in ‘No, Robot, No!’ by Sidekick Books), which is theatrical in a deeper sense, a text with the practical purpose of moving the readers to action. It formulates the aesthetic aims and poetic strategies of Neo-Futuristic poetry in the narrative framework of Hawking’s cosmologic prediction that humans will inhabit exoplanets within the next century.
The innovation of new technological systems in Neo-Futuristic architecture, translates into continuous invention of new forms and word-innovation, through a constantly inventive handling of poetic form. This word innovation is evident in the title of the Astropolis poem ‘futunnεl at night 22:03’ which merges the words “future” and “tunnel”, while adapting the Greek letter ‘epsilon’ instead of the English ‘e’, portraying a metaphorical pathway to adapting to primordial, non-violent and courteous approaches to nature as expressed in ancient Greek thought. In addition, following the footsteps of Futurism, Neo-Futuristic poetry aestheticises everyday life, celebrates the urban city and its objective paratextual elements. It opposes conventional traditions by abolishing overly-used language, and rather uses machinic processes and the textual abundance of the internet, to producing language “Diameter of Rotor: 164 Meters / Swept Area: 21,124 Square Meters” (from ‘Aeolus Turbine’, Astropolis). Inspired by McQueen’s Neo-Futuristic 2012 catwalk that prompted depersonalisation through androgynous looks and identical sci-fi costumes, Neo-Futuristic poetry adheres to abolition of anthopocentism and ‘the subjective I’, and instead promotes objective perspectives and collectivity by encouraging collaborative poetry within an inter-disciplinary context. Neo-Futuristic poetry points, in a heterogeneity of poetic forms, toward the ecological and cosmological frames generated by the 21st century technological imagination driven by cutting-edge technologies and ethical values. It is a new ecopoetic form characterised by change rather than stasis:
We took the leap to maximum efficiency. We have no expiration date now. […] On the horizon, a technological city emits energy and speed in phenomenal time-lapses. To lean towards technology is natural.
(from the Manifesto of neo-Futurism, part of Astropolis)
I urge you to check out Astropolis – beg, steal, borrow or buy a copy of Astropolis by Astra Papachristodoulou (Haverthorn Press 2018).
Astra Papachristodoulou is a recent graduate from the MA Creative Writing (Poetic Practice) at Royal Holloway with focus in experimental writing and the neo-futurist tradition across poetry, visual art and performance. Her poetry has appeared in poetry magazines and anthologies including The Tangerine, Wretched Strangers and 3:am Magazine. She tweets @heyastranaut