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.
I WONDER IF I WILL EVER MANAGE TO WRITE A GOOD POEM ABOUT HEAT DEATH
This trajectory is all on us for inability
to fact check or read critically.
The sparring kangaroos were dancing
with rain-joy, we said.
That’s fighting, said the scientist,
old photo. Those kangaroos are ash by now.
Pictures of koalas in renal failure
foregoing their fear of us
to lap water from the road were deemed
“cute.” No, no, said the scientist, it’s not cute.
That creature is dying.
We’d moved on. Wombats shepherd
other critters into their burrows! Stewards of the underbush!
Not quite right, said the scientist, wombat burrows are enormous.
Most likely the wombat was hiding in another chamber.
Too busy anthropomorphizing, we’d already created a hashtag.
#WombatEmpathy will save us!
I asked ryan what comes next,
and he said,
either the complete transformation
of existing relationships
or the heat death of the
planet. One of those.
My heart’s on relationships, and kangaroos, and scientists.
No time for settler logic.
No atheists in burrows, friend.
No one is coming to save us.
I ❤️ ALBERTA’S ENERGY
take the elevator to my second-floor
apartment bust out the biodiesel
firmware use medical grade plastic
bottles for my saline nasal
rinse gotta keep those
mucus membranes clean for u
and the dust bowl, babe, gotta
run that old car all up and down
this city’s sprawl I try to keep warm
through frigid prairie winters feel appropriate
guilt at the plastic produce bags I bring home
from the grocery store / forget the mesh ones
every time / I’ve gone full enemy of the state assault vehicle
applied to be the next poet-in-residence for carbon capture
(mass species death, but make it fashion)
everything you see is development
gently falling leaves in the inner city: development
Enoch Sales heritage home fire: development
empty condo tower on empty condo tower:
the firing of 5,000 Albertan nurses in the year
2019 / 9 dead from fires in South Wales since Monday
now 24, meanwhile
we’re bursting out the seams over here:
Montana, Drake, East Village, Tuscany
new history razed for imported ideas
another thundering swing
from settler colonialism’s long neoliberal tail
clearing a path for the rule of the patch
by the patch for the patch
for the capitalist overlord bosses of our demise,
for the dinosaurs who never left us
Nikki Reimer (she/her) is a carbon-based life form of Ukrainian and Russian Mennonite descent who lives on the traditional territories of the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta. She may or may not be undead. She writes poetry, essays and criticism, yells on the internet, and makes digital art. Published books are My Heart is a Rose Manhattan, DOWNVERSE and [sic].
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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