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.
The dinosaurs that didn’t die went slamming into windows, dazzled by the colour of a gold. Instead of flight, they had their houses built on tree tops, over many single blades of grass; they learned to run on fossils of their dead. They lived and learned the many things they thought they had to learn; how to upright, how to sit down, how eventually to crawl. The sun still happened. The water happened. The ice that once had happened didn’t happen anymore. Instead of crawling, the dinosaurs that didn’t lay down without a lullaby and watched a world they made through glass. They saw but thought they didn’t, the edges of the birds whose songs were stuck inside a bottle, the make-believe of golden eggs.
UPON DISCOVERING SILICONE IMPLANTS DO NOT BURN AT 1500 ºF
All the women I have been have been a beautiful shedding of rat snake confused
where her tail ends another bites where the woman ends the Barbie plastic takes
a thousand years to decompose; the leather jacket made for a boy I wore
when everyone forgot it was skin,
now down to hide the reason people don't like rats; they eat their shit. It won't
look good on Food TV. Most days I try to breathe human, speak human to men
producing plastics, men producing sedatives making fishes fearless,
men who say they want to get to know
the inside of an oyster will sever adductors to force her from her shell will cut
the legs off lady bugs when they were boys they didn't know why
the short-tailed cricket eats her wings. I speak human
while they touch
the me that is fake pearls made from cotton and crumbs that glitter
while vacuuming someone else's floor, the me who is dollar store
trophy expendable, botox blocked from genuine signal
reliving the men how a cockroach scuttles for seemingly random
escape reliving the men as apid stinger lodged in the jaw
grinding my teeth while I sleep, the moment
my mind became an ant
marching in circles. All the women I have had to be have been
quiet inside a boardroom watching Predator on casual Fridays,
quiet inside a game of Twister, wrong hand on red
beautiful in lips
sewed up, frog legs stuffed in the back of a cab watching
drunk for cobras between my knees. The amygdala says
orange is the colour of fear. I am spending my life
in someone else's fake tan
as though all the women I have had to become have forgotten
U.V. In a thousand years all that's left of me will be all
those liners on maxi-pads with wings; in a thousand years
I want none of this
to have to matter to all the women I will not be
who after me are issued wings like the short-tailed
cricket; I want the matter of synthetic fibres
return to earth.
"Upon Discovering Silicone Implants Do Not Burn At 1500 ºF" previously published in RiddleFence, Issue 32, Spring 2019.
Paola Ferrante's debut poetry collection, What to Wear When Surviving A Lion Attack, was published Spring 2019 by Mansfield Press.. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming in, PRISM International, Joyland, Grain, and elsewhere. She won The New Quarterly's 2019 Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award and Room's 2018 prize for Fiction. She is the Poetry Editor at Minola Review and resides in Toronto, Canada. She can be found on twitter @PaolaOFerrante
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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