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 boardwalks scuttled like diving reef schooners –
a walkable Galilee if anyone dared, but each jogger rears
to higher ground. I’ve lost my son a half-second here
or there before I pulled him up, his lips like planks,
in tubs and pools and once a mirror lake – the obsidian
endless kind that really ends abruptly in roots and husks
and carcasses and muck. This country’s full of them.
All summer we swim bellies up, avoid anoxic thoughts.
The joggers, any other day, linger at the point
just long enough to catch their breath and contemplate
an app, perhaps the sun. Yes, there it is, afloat. My son,
I need to know what you thought of water when it first,
again, surrounded you. Your eyes were wide. You didn’t
make a sound. Not one thing was born or died.
THE SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE OF THIS WORLD
The successful people of this world
are always busy. They work all day
then come home and need to do something
so they cook the dinner, wash the car, cut the grass.
It's because of the successful people
that we have water restrictions:
this side of the street on even days,
that side on odd.
They like that kind of thing: schedules,
they are usually big fans of schedules,
and when they have free time in theirs
they spend it composing new schedules.
When they take medication
they always put it in one of those plastic things
that divides the pills up by days.
the successful people of this world
are busy and efficient, their actions
are their own rewards, and a green lawn
during a heat wave is their poem.
"The Successful People of the World" previously appeared in The Other Side of Ourselves (Cormorant Books, 2011).
Rob Taylor is the author of three poetry collections, including The News (Gaspereau Press, 2016), which was a finalist for the 2017 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Rob is also the editor of What the Poets Are Doing: Canadian Poets in Conversation (Nightwood Editions, 2018) and guest editor of Best Canadian Poetry 2019 (Biblioasis, 2019). His fourth collection, Strangers, will be published by Biblioasis in Spring 2021.
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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