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.
WHETHER THE HEAVENS BREAK
WHETHER THE HEAVENS BREAK
WHETHER THE BROKEN CLOUDS ACCUMULATE ENOUGH
AUDIENCE TO DEBUT AT TIFF
WHETHER CURIOUS CUMULI INCUBATE OUR ATTENTION
WHETHER THE WEATHER BURSTS FORTH
LIKE HEAVEN'S GATES
LOCKING DOWN ALL THE LATCHES
WHETHER WATER AND ETHER COMBINED
MAKE A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET
WHETHER DUSK IS UPON US SOONER
RATHER THAN LATER
WHETHER YOU PREFER HURRICANES OVER HEAT WAVES
MONSOONS OVER ICE MELTS
WHETHER YOU HARVEST FRUIT FROM THE FOREST FLOOR OR
WITHERED ON WIZENED VINES
WHETHER YOU PINE FOR YOUR MUSKOKA CHILDHOOD
WHETHER PILEATED WOODPECKERS DELIGHT YOU
EITHER THE CONTINUOUS PRESENT OR THE LOOMING FUTURE
EITHER SOME OF THEM
OR ALL OF US
WHETHER TRUTH WAVERS BEFORE SIX-DOLLAR LATTES
AND MAUVE MACARONS
WHETHER IT WAS A TOTAL BLOCKBUSTER
WHETHER YOU'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT
WHETHER THE SKY GETS DARKER THAN "BREAKING BAD"
WHETHER REALITY IS A MALEVOLENT COLOSSUS
COMING ON LIKE AN ADORABLE BABY LION
WHETHER SUPERWINDSTORMS MAKE THE RATINGS RISE
WHETHER THE DEADLINE PREMIERE
IS A NO-HOLDS-BARRED DOCUMENTARY ON SUBLIME
DO WE HAVE OUR TICKET IN ADVANCE
DO WE HAVE OUR SEAT RESERVED
DO WE HAVE A COVETED SPOT BESIDE THE RED CARPET
WHETHER WE LIKE COMEDIES
WHETHER THE FILMMAKER WAS FUNDED
BY A FRACKING CONGLOMERATE
OR A BRAZILIAN MINING CONSORTIUM
WHETHER THE CLIMAX IS A MASS SHOOTING EVENT
THAT SOUNDED LIKE A RUNAWAY TRAIN
THAT BARRELLED INTO CANADIAN TIRE
LIKE A BLOOD AVALANCHE AT NIAGARA
WE'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT EVER BEFORE
STEP RIGHT THIS WAY
STEP INTO THE HARSH GLARE
OF THE BIGGEST SHOW ON EARTH
WHETHER WHATEVER WE DREAM
IS JUST LIKE A MOVIE
WHETHER IT IS ALL JUST LIKE CUTTING-EDGE CINEMA
WHETHER WE'RE ON 24/7 CANDID CAMERA
ALONG WITH FACIAL RECOGNITION
HOW ABOUT GLACIAL RECOGNITION
OR WILL THAT SPOIL THE PLOTLINE FOR US
WHETHER IT IS ALL SO ORIGINAL
WHETHER IT IS CRAZY GENIUS AT HAND
WHEN THE HEAVENS HEAVE AND THREATEN
YES THE SKY MIGHT BREAK OPEN
YES THE SKY IS MADE OF GOSSAMER ETHER
YES THE ETHER IS MADE OF TRANSHUMAN MEMORY
YES THE MEMORY DRINKS IN RAIN
YES THE AUDIENCE IS AN OCEAN
WE WANT THE C.G.A. WEATHER TO LOOK
MORE WILD THAN WILDERNESS ALONE
WE WANT THE ENDING TO SHOCK US
WE WANT TO BE AWAKE
SO WAKE UP
CAN WE WAKE UP
LET'S WAKE UP
Margaret Christakos creates poetry, teaches, and thinks about forms of direct and indirect social address as part of her thirty-year artistic practice. She hails from Sudbury, Ontario, and lives in Toronto. Recent books include Multitudes and Her Paraphernalia: On Motherlines, Sex/Blood/Loss & Selfies. In Spring 2020 her new book charger is forthcoming.
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
Sign up for our Newsletter