Watch Your Head
Coach House Books, 2020
A warning, a movement, a collection borne of protest.
In Watch Your Head, poems, stories, essays, and artwork sound the alarm on the present and future consequences of the climate emergency. Ice caps are melting, wildfires are raging, and species extinction is accelerating. Dire predictions about the climate emergency from scientists, Indigenous land and water defenders, and striking school children have mostly been ignored by the very institutions – government, education, industry, and media – with the power to do something about it.
Writers and artists confront colonization, racism, and the social inequalities that are endemic to the climate crisis. Here the imagination amplifies and humanizes the science. These works are impassioned, desperate, hopeful, healing, transformative, and radical.
This is a call to climate-justice action.
Cover design by Ingrid Paulson
...Watch Your Head does not disappoint. It serves as a warning to heed, a reminder to be thought of often, and a well-thought-out piece of art. Throughout the anthology, readers encounter pieces that provoke and insist, demanding attention, consideration, action, and creativity. Essays and stories and images alike bring about questions and statements on Indigenous rights, white privilege, exploitation of land and people, colonial power structures, place, home, language, and imagination.
This anthology is not to be missed. The pandemic may have defined our year, but the climate crisis defines our time in geological history. See how this roster of talented writers and artists advance the conversation, put the crisis in context and call for climate justice.
SOUTHERN GASTRIC-BROODING FROG
collected by David S. Liem
38.4 mm snout to vent
smooth, slimy skin
prominent eyes, black
with gold spots
round blunt snout
jaws close snap
streams, spend days
summer rains initiate breeding
fertilized eggs, tadpoles
develop in the stomach, are birthed
through the mother’s mouth
fully-formed froglets spew forth
1978 summer rains late
1979 rains very late
1980 & 1981 rains late again
last seen in the wild December 1979
last captive frog died November 1983
THE CALL OF THIS SPECIES
The grunting of a pig a hen cackling the bleat of a sheep
the low bellow of an ox a cricket singing near the water
a dog’s bark a duck quacking young crows cawing
a delicate insect-like tinkle a broken banjo string
a finger running over the small teeth of a comb
a squeaky door being slowly opened a carpenter’s hammer
the tapping of paddles on the side of a canoe a cough
a watch being wound a nasal snarl
a low-pitched snore two marbles being struck together
sleigh bells the clangor of a blacksmith's shop
P-r-r-r- pip-pip-pip-pip poo-poo-poo-poo-poo-poo
purrrreeeek cr, cr, cr cre-e-e-e-e-e-p, cre-e-e-e-e-e-p
pst-pst-pst queenk, queenk eeek! kraw, kraw, kraw
jwah, jwah ah, ah, ah, ah krack, krack, krack
ca-ha-ha-ac, ca-ha-ha-ac, ca-ha-ha-ac pé-pé, pé-pé
kle-kle-kle-klee cran, cran, cran, c-r-r-en, c-r-r-en
creck-creck-creck cut-cut-cut-cut ric-up, ric-up, ric-up
ru-u-u-ummm ru-u-u-ummm grrruut-grrruut-grrruut-grrruut
grau, grau gick, gick, gick, gick tschw, tschw, tschw
wurrk, wur-r-r-k trint-trint tr-r-r-onk tr-r-r-onk, tr-r-r-onk!
The call of this species has not been recorded
fragmentation of forest
clearance of cloud forest
movement of the cloud layer up the mountainside
ice in the montane grasslands
severe dry seasons
drought-related increases in evaporation
successive fires extending deeper into the rainforest
construction of a dam upstream
construction of a cable car
pesticides used in maize farming upstream
conversion of habitat into a golf course
invasion of mist flower
introduction of the Bullfrog
lack of genetic diversity
heavy parasite loads
exportation for the pet trade
stress due to handling for data collection
Kate Sutherland lives in Toronto where she writes poems, makes collages, and teaches law. She is the author of three books: Summer Reading (winner of a Saskatchewan Book Award), All In Together Girls, and How to Draw a Rhinoceros (shortlisted for a Creative Writing Book Award by the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment). A new collection of poems, The Bones Are There, is forthcoming from Book*hug Press in Fall 2020. These three poems are part of a longer sequence about extinct frog species which will appear in its entirety in the new collection.
Watch Your Head is an online journal of creative works devoted to the climate crisis and climate justice.
New work is published monthly!
Check out our latest project: a print anthology published by Coach House Books!
Watch Your Head: Writers & Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis
Coach House Books
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