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.
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.
Polished cameo a distilled mirror
steam skimmed skin
of water in the oval cue
The ocean has no perceptible bottom
The detritus of cargo ships strewn,
No one dives
no strolls to retrieve
Don’t rise too quickly back up to the sky
Animal exhalations hold the wreckage
of your heart poured into
a white porcelain sink,
A paint spattered canvas
Still, breathing – oxygenated
There is not enough fresh air.
near, a view, a window
further, distant, the port.
(a churning inland sea,
painted surface of nothingness)
what emerges four-legged
from the shore a figure-ground
illusion of an ancient-creature
still living, distilled
breath, “Dressed Landscape for
Dry Ice Studies.”
The perspective of a band practice
The tarry instruments, tinny, far away
of amplifiers affixed to stilts
Someday the body will remember
A generation of flailing limbs
A Flirtation with Rapture
The Skin of Victorian buildings
floating in the after-birth of
The painting hand thinking
in a network of gestures
of the linked orbital of satellite
layers of the ascension
the numbing epidermal of embodiment
cold metal needle
in the simulacra the metronome
of a shaking hand
the surgeon, hirsute
At the bottom of the painting, hand-written,
The cut ice letters
Here where Holy ghost prophecy carries more weight than science
Freedom senses all the tears
of a thousand windowsills
The rainbow of men and women
shoulder to shoulder
entering hotels and shelters
Rowboat sailors with buttoned oars
rough coughing from lungs
of a sulfur sheen
Of black coal in lieu of flowers
holding the skirt of the lake.
A thousand monarchs
rose up, lifted
both sides of the sky
exposed exploited roe
Inlaid into monoculture rows
A cascade of waterfalls and memories
accompanied the rain all night
Rattling on about the cusp
as it danced
though never unattended
The flood waters rang out
May the lake take you
under to dream
May the sky rise to meet you
when you awaken.
Robert Frede Kenter is a writer and visual artist, who lives with ME/FM, is widely published and exhibited and is a 2020 Pushcart nominee. Work recently in Black Bough, Burning House Press, Cypress, Talking about Strawberries, Floodlight Ed., Anthropocene, Cough. Robert is publisher of Toronto-based Ice Floe Press www.icefloepress.net & author of a recent hybrid collection, Audacity of Form (Ice Floe Press). A chapbook of VISPO, "EDEN", is forthcoming later in 2021. Robert was a feature reader in 2020 at Cheltenham Poetry Festival. Twitter: @frede_kenter
Stephen Barrett is a writer, teacher, dad and husband. He composes poetry, writes songs and loves playing his guitar and blues harp. Winters are spent scouring used bookstores in Toronto for old volumes of poetry and summers walking the shores of Lake Huron looking for unique stones and detritus on the beach.
Plasticpoems, 2:28 minutes
Written by Fiona Tinwei Lam
Animation by Nhat Truong
Sound Design byTinjun Niu:
This short animated video depicts two concrete/visual poems by poet Fiona Tinwei Lam from her collection of poems Odes & Laments (Caitlin Press, 2019) about marine plastic pollution
Plasticnic, 1:13 minutes
Written/Narrated by Fiona Tinwei Lam
Animation by Tisha Deb Pillai
Sound Design byTinjun Niu:
A humorous animated video poem about plastic pollution that shows how we destroy nature while seeking to enjoy ourselves in the great outdoors.
The video poem is based on a shaped poem in Odes & Laments (Caitlin Press, 2019)
Note: all words come from letters in “plastic” with no doubling. Each shift occurs with the addition or removal of a single letter and/or a reordering of the letters.
"Quench" originally published in Odes & Laments, (Caitlin Press, 2019).
Fiona Tinwei Lam’s third collection of poetry Odes & Laments celebrates the overlooked wonder and beauty in the everyday, while lamenting harm to our ecosystems. She has also authored a children’s book, edited The Bright Well: Contemporary Canadian Poems on Facing Cancer, and co-edited Love Me True: Writers Reflect on the Ins, Outs, Ups & Downs of Marriage with Jane Silcott. Lam won The New Quarterly’s Nick Blatchford Prize and was a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award. Her work appears in more than thirty-five anthologies, including The Best Canadian Poetry in English (both 2010 and 2020) and Forcefield: 77 Women Poets of BC. Her award-winning poetry videos have screened at festivals locally and internationally. She teaches at Simon Fraser University’s Continuing Studies. fionalam.net @FTinweiL
판교낙생대공원 / at the Pangyo Paradise Park, Seoul, Korea
두터운 잎 Project/ part of Thick Leaf Project
As time goes as humans love the city forest, the forest loses herself and morphs with our habit. Her power and beauty are destroyed by our impatient and insignificant acts. We think the forest will remain the same, but she loses her language every time we walk through her path. The beautiful path for us is a plastic wind for her.
- How do we express love?
사람이 도심의 숲을 사랑하는 시간이 흐를수록 작은 숲은 자신을 잃고 사람에 맞춰 변해간다. 숲은 그 자체로 힘이 있고 아름답지만, 사람이 만든 성급하고 작은 사건들에 무너져버린다. 숲은 계속 그대로일 거라고 생각하지만, 사람들이 한발자국 걸을 때마다 숲은 빠르게 숲의 언어를 잃어간다. 사람의 아름다운 산책길이 숲에게는 플라스틱 바람인 걸 모른다.
-사랑의 표현은 어떻게 해야 하나
CHOE Rayun is a visual artist who works closely with elements from everyday and nature. She is an active member of Mullae Art Village in Seoul. Site-specificity of Mullae informs her work and directs her attention to nature, human and urban, and their relationship to each other. With her thought provoking works, she offers a moment to share and an opportunity to contemplate. She works in diverse mediums such as painting, drawing, sculpture, video and performance.
Tree Sketches were each composed by a different species of tree. As a writer, connected to story, I felt it a salient action in this time of environmental crisis to step back and listen to the subjects I might otherwise have written over.
Each caption includes the species of trees, both common and Latin names, as well as the duration and date of each composition.
Tree Sketches # 1 & 3 were originally published by The Blasted Tree in 2017 as a series of broadsides, while the remaining works are presented on its website, all of them presented under the title The Sign of Poetry.
Sacha Archer is a writer who works in numerous mediums as well as being the editor of Simulacrum Press. Archer’s most recent publications include Inkwells: An Event Poem (Noir:Z, 2019), TSK oomph (Inspiritus Press, 2018) and Contemporary Meat (The Blasted Tree, 2018). Houses (No Press), Framing Poems and Mother’s Milk (both Timglaset) are forthcoming. Archer lives in Burlington, Ontario with his wife and two daughters.
Watch Your Head is an online journal of creative works devoted to the climate crisis and climate justice.
New work is published monthly!
Film & Video
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