Meditating on exile, loss, diaspora, authoritarian law, and altered ecologies, Joanne Leow's debut collection spans from the would-be Eden of hyper-planned and surveilled Singapore to an uneasy settling in the Canadian Prairies, seeking answers to the question of what is lost in intensive urban development and the journey across continents. Reflecting on relationships between lovers, parents and children, state and citizen, land and body, seas move away asks what we owe each other across borders and what endures in times of great flux and irreversible ecological change.
About the author
Joanne Leow is an Assistant Professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Her essays, fiction, and poetry have been published in Brick, Catapult, Evergreen Review, The Goose, Isle, The Kindling, The Town Crier, QLRS, and Ricepaper Magazine. She grew up in Singapore and currently lives on Treaty 6 Territory (Saskatoon, SK).
Excerpt: seas move away (by (author) Joanne Leow)
seas move away
so heartbreak pales in the backdrop of desertification, hurricanes, war, histories of violence, what unspeakable things we do to each other with sharpness and heat. Crossings are irrevocable when bodies of water themselves prove elusive and changeable.
Seas move away
and so the ports that call for my arrival at predetermined times turn out to be too far from the coast. I cannot find the island of my birth if its libraries burn. Words mean so little, that their worth cannot be guaranteed even as they pass unchanged from the tips of fingers through these undersea cables into the air, rearranging the rare-earth minerals in this illuminated glass that I hold in my hand.
Seas move away
and leave debris in their wake: coral bleaches, wrecks of the past, blooms of jellyfish, beached whale carcasses dragged up from their submarine dives. I stand on these shores and watch how the blues change from calm, to undecided, to fury. The tide pulls me out and knocks me over, breathless in the foam.