Current, Climate is an introduction to the environmental and social-justice poetry of Rita Wong. Selections from her poetic oeuvre show how Wong has responded to local and global inequities with outrage, linguistic inventiveness, and sometimes humour.
Wong’s poetry explores the meeting places of life, language, and land—from downtown Vancouver to the headwaters of the Columbia River. Her poems are deeply attentive to places and their names, and especially to the imposition of foreign words on the unceded Indigenous lands of what is otherwise known as British Columbia. Exhorting readers to recognize their responsibilities to the planet and to their communities, Wong’s watershed poetics encompass anger, grief, wit, and hope.
Nicholas Bradley’s introduction situates Wong’s poetry in its literary and cultural contexts, focusing on the role of the author in a time of crisis. In Wong’s case, poetry and political activism are intertwined—and profoundly connected to the land and water that sustain us. The volume concludes with an afterword by Rita Wong that calls for collective action to address the climate crisis and systemic inequities with an “economy of care and solidarity.”
About the authors
Rita Wong teaches in Critical + Cultural Studies at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver, BC, Canada, where she has developed a humanities course focused on water, with the support of a fellowship from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. She is currently researching the poetics of water, supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada: http://downstream.ecuad.ca/ .
Her poems have appeared in anthologies such as Prismatic Publics: Innovative Canadian Women's Poetry and Poetics, Regreen: New Canadian Ecological Poetry, Visions of British Columbia (published for an exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery), and Making a Difference: Canadian Multicultural Literature. She has a passion for daylighting buried urban streams and for watershed literacy. Wong can be found on twitter at https://twitter.com/rrrwong.
Nicholas Bradley is an associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Victoria. He is the editor of We Go Far Back in Time: The Letters of Earle Birney and Al Purdy, 1947–1987 (2014) and An Echo in the Mountains: Al Purdy after a Century (2020), and the author of Rain Shadow (2018). He is also an associate editor of the journal Canadian Literature.