The water belongs to itself. undercurrent reflects on the power and sacredness of water--largely underappreciated by too many--whether it be in the form of ocean currents, the headwaters of the Fraser River or fluids in the womb. Exploring a variety of poetic forms, anecdote, allusion and visual elements, this collection reminds humanity that we are water bodies, and we need and deserve better ways of honouring this.
Poet Rita Wong approaches water through personal, cultural and political lenses. She humbles herself to water both physically and spiritually: "i will apprentice myself to creeks & tributaries, groundwater & glaciers / listen for the salty pulse within, the blood that recognizes marine ancestry." She witnesses the contamination of First Nations homelands and sites, such as Gregoire Lake near Fort McMurray, AB: "though you look placid, peaceful dibenzothiophenes / you hold bitter, bitumized depths." Wong points out that though capitalism and industry are supposed to improve our quality of life, they're destroying the very things that give us life in the first place. Listening to and learning from water is key to a future of peace and creative potential.
undercurrent emerges from the Downstream project, a multifaceted, creative collaboration that highlights the importance of art in understanding and addressing the cultural and political issues related to water. The project encourages public imagination to respect and value water, ecology and sustainability. Visit downstream.ecuad.ca.
About the author
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.
Other titles by Rita Wong
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