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.
FAREWELL, MY SEA
— poem for the Salish Sea
The morning the quake hit the city
I swore I’d ride full gallop into that sea
never look back. I listened to Jay-Z, shoved
tiny nectarines into my satchel,
and fled West past the Prime Minister
who stood at the corner of 4th and Trutch
disguised as a Dutch milkmaid with rosy cheeks.
Kits beach was furious.
But I found my pony di Esperia
standing in my dory and so put myself
upon her and we rowed--
At Howe Sound a gang of dinghies
shepherded by muscular oilers slicked up around us.
In their faces the coast was a Shrinky Dink.
Dogs and cats galore were chucked and dunked
into the floatsam. The masked activists who had lain
their bodies down beneath bulldozers at Burnaby Mountain
flung themselves straight as arrows off the Sea-to-Sky cliffs.
Pony and I, in those first days, small in our boat,
shared our raisins and stale Triscuits with pirates
from Fort McMurray who stabbed each other up for their last rails.
All of the city’s private property was now public, but useless,
floating as it was, in shit. None of it, not the iPhones or Jaguars,
the Hunter boots or toy giraffes imported
from France, now bobbing maniacally in the water,
mattered. We shared stories and whatever raisins were left.
Alanis Obomsawin, sitting around our campfire beside Pauline Johnson,
asked what colour the sky was. St. Kateri Tekakwitha,
Ike and Tina, Joan of Arc, Marco Polo, Snuffaluffagus— they all came
galumphing back. Buffy St. Marie. Neil Young. Louis Riel.
We all sat around roasting raisins --
all of us intermittently
marooned on an unidentifiable Arctic island at Great Bear Lake. The sky?
We hadn’t looked at it.
Babies cried. Laura Secord handed out milkshakes.
Georgia O’Keefe stood as still as a petroglyph, entranced
by the horizon. We’d come too seldom
to the ocean. We were too busy with the 21st century.
But eternal return isn’t infinite. Not everyone comes back,
nothing lasts. My pony refused to do the dirty work
and her brackish eyes were glassy. On her way to the slaughterhouse,
years ago, standing in a dark box car, despondent, she felt the sudden
hospitality of a man’s arms around her neck.
Turns out those arms were Nietzsche’s, crash-test dummy,
beloved by thousands of boy students of philosophy
the world over, lover of blood and birds and horses. When, after more
Arctic transit, we moved from ice cap to ice cap and watched off
the coast of Greenland the final outburst of the tide
flower up and die, we stopped
so that Pony could peer into the oily face of the sea.
*This poem was published at New Poetry (ed. George Murray) in 2018.
Previously published at New Poetry (ed. George Murray) in 2018.
Gillian Jerome is the author of a book of poems, Red Nest, which was nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and won the ReLit Award. She co-edited an oral history project, Hope in Shadows: Stories and Photographs from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, which won the 2008 City of Vancouver Book Award. Her poems have recently appeared in GEIST, Hunger Mountain and New Poetry. She teaches literatures and writing at the University of British Columbia where she has taught full-time since 2004. She serves a teacher-mentor in the Poetry in Voice program and teaches sexual health to teenagers. Born in Ottawa and raised in Orléans, Ontario, she lives in Vancouver with her daughters, Rory and Micah Sophia, and their silver-eyed unicorn Geneviève Hugo.
no nuclear winter
no ice age
no second coming
no robot revolution
a pear tree
"Anti-Apocalypse" previously published in Bad Animals (Insominac Press, 2018)
Tom Cull teaches creative writing at Western University and was the Poet Laureate for the City of London from 2016-2018. Tom’s first collection of poems, Bad Animals, was published in 2018 by Insomniac Press. His work has appeared in such journals as the Rusty Toque, Long Con, and the New Quarterly; his poem “After Rivers” was included in the anthology Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice (MSU Press, 2019). Tom is the director of Antler River Rally, a grass roots environmental group he co-founded in 2012 with his partner Miriam Love. ARR works to protect and restore Deshkan Ziibi (Thames River).
View on CBC Gem (Closed Captioning Available)
Short, Lyrical, Dramatic Film
Millefiore Clarkes - Director / Emma Fugate - Producer
Solastalgia (/ˌsɒləˈstældʒə/) is a neologism that describes a form of mental or existential distress caused by environmental change.
When the panic over global crises threatens to engulf her, Ava embarks on a vision-quest to put things in perspective.
SOLASTALGIA is a lyrical film that explores the anguish that climate change and a global state of uncertainty can impart upon the human psyche.
Ava, (played by Rebecca Parent) a mother of two young children, is bombarded throughout her day with news of global disasters. Over the airwaves, on the internet, overheard at a grocery store - cataclysmic stories of the effects of climate change steadily erode Ava’s inner peace. She acutely feels the burden of guilt for her entire species. She worries about her children's futures. Her mental health is unwinding as she searches for solace and a new perspective.
This film is a dreamscape set to the formidable poetic verse of Tanya Davis (former poet-laureate of Halifax). It is a poetic gesture to the vast timeline of the earth and humanity's small but significant place within the web. SOLASTALGIA is a traditional drama that utilizes non-traditional, stock and archival sources for some of its imagery. It blends a straight-forward narrative with a surrealistic journey underpinned with a musical score by Philip Glass, Russell Louder and others.
Funded through FilmPEI Film4Ward program.
Millefiore Clarkes is an award-winning filmmaker from Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island. Through her company One Thousand Flowers Productions she produces a variety of media work: short and feature documentaries, music videos, drama, experimental shorts, and video installations. She recently received the DOC Institute’s Vanguard Award for her work as a documentarian. Her most recent work is a short lyrical, dramatic film SOLASTALGIA that explores the theme of climate grief. It won Best Canadian Short at the Silverwave Film Festival.
She has directed three documentaries for The National Film Board of Canada: THE SONG AND THE SORROW, BLUE RODEO - ON THE ROAD, and ISLAND GREEN. THE SONG AND THE SORROW won Best Short Atlantic Documentary at FIN - Atlantic International Film Fest, Best Documentary at Silverwave Film Festival, Best Atlantic Doc at Lunenburg Doc Fest, Best Mid Length Documentary at The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, and was a Top Ten Audience Choice at Available Light Film Festival.
Her films have screened at festivals across Canada and the US and have been broadcast on CBC and Bravo! Her experimental short December in Toronto is featured on Vimeo’s Staff Picks, and her music videos have won a number of awards.
She is passionate about making films that connect us to one another and to nature.
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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