The hermit crab lives alone in its own small shell.
I, too, live in my own small shell.
Its walls are dark and cozy like a cave.
I scuttle about from tide pool to tide pool and I am happy.
But lately my shell/cave paintings trouble me.
Images of dark seagulls and undulating creatures live on my walls.
I fear my shell/cave has grown too heavy.
I fear I no longer know where
the shell/cave ends and where I begin.
I am shell/
I am dark cave.
DEATH IS A MAN WHO FEELS SCARED
Bains Corner, New Brunswick
Trudging over fickle ice crystals,
moss brittle, trees broken,
collecting slight sheets
of birch bark for scribbling,
we hear something cry out
deep in the brush.
What was it?
A deer, perhaps.
A song of sadness,
I am compelled to sing back
but what could I possibly say?
"Shell/Cave" originally appears in Poets for Living Waters. August 5, 2010
“Death is a Man Who Feels Scared” will appear in Ghost Face (DC Books).
Greg Santos is the author of Blackbirds (2018), Rabbit Punch! (2014), and The Emperor’s Sofa (2010). His third full-length poetry collection with DC Books, Ghost Face, is coming soon. Santos is the Editor in Chief of the Quebec Writers’ Federation’s online magazine, carte blanche. He lives in tio’tia:ke/Montréal with his family. As part of the National Arts Centre’s Canada Performs initiative, Santos read excerpts from his forthcoming book on May 2, 2020 on Facebook Live. View the performance in its entirety here.
Niro is a member of the Six Nations Reserve, Bay of Quinte Mohawk, Turtle Clan.
Shelley Niro is a multi-media artist. Her work involves photography, painting, beadwork and film. Niro is conscious the impact post-colonial mediums have had on Indigenous people. Like many artists from different Native communities, she works relentlessly presenting people in realistic and explorative portrayals. Photo series such as MOHAWKS IN BEEHIVES, THIS LAND IS MIME LAND and M: STORIES OF WOMEN are a few of the genre of artwork. Films include: HONEY MOCCASIN, IT STARTS WITH A WHISPER, THE SHIRT, KISSED BY LIGHTNING and ROBERT’S PAINTINGS. Recently she finished her film THE INCREDIBLE 25th YEAR OF MITZI BEARCLAW.
Shelley graduated from the Ontario College of Art, Honours and received her Master of Fine Art from the University of Western Ontario.
Niro was the inaugural recipient of the Aboriginal Arts Award presented through the Ontario Arts Council in 2012. In 2017 Niro received the Governor General’s Award For The Arts from the Canada Council, The Scotiabank Photography Award and also received the Hnatyshyn Foundation REVEAL Award. Niro recently received an honorary doctorate from the Ontario College of Arts and Design University. She also was the 2019 Laureate of the Paul de Hueck and Norman Walford Career Achievement Award for Photography.
Alana Bartol, Orphan Well Adoption Agency, 2017-ongoing
Founded in 2017, Orphan Well Adoption Agency (OWAA) explores new methods of reading, assessing, and understanding the health of sites contaminated by the oil and gas industry. As part of its work, OWAA is dedicated to finding symbolic caretakers for orphan oil and gas wells across Alberta. As of 2020, over 60 wells have been symbolically adopted.
From 2017-2019, Orphan Well Adoption Agency held temporary offices in Alberta at TRUCK Contemporary Art, Latitude 53, and Art Gallery of Grande Prairie. Members of the public were invited to meet with OWAA representatives and apply to symbolically adopt a well. If approved, caretakers received a certificate of adoption with the name and location of an orphan well in Alberta along with a postcard of a well. Caretakers also have the option receive mailed correspondence from their well.
OWAA re-imagines dowsing (aka water-witching) as a form of technology for environmental remediation, one that might shift our relationship to natural resources, while examining remediation, care, and the reliability of information. OWAA dowsers uncover information and messages from well sites which transcribed and mailed to caretakers. Although some wells may be dormant and uncommunicative, the OWAA makes every attempt to reach them.
Part of the OWAA’s mission is to share information and educate the public about the plight of orphan wells and related issues. The number of orphan wells has steadily increased since the OWAA began its work in 2017. As defined by the Orphan Well Association (OWA), a non‐profit organization that operates under the delegated legal authority of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), an orphan is “an oil or gas well site which has been investigated and confirmed as not having any legally responsible and/or financially able party to deal with its abandonment and reclamation responsibilities”. (Orphan Well Association) These sites threaten to contaminate land, water, and life, with remediation efforts lasting up to a decade. Unlike the OWA, OWAA extends the definition of orphan wells to include the 90,000 inactive (or suspended) and 77,000 abandoned wells in Alberta that are not yet fully reclaimed. (Government of Alberta) Though these well sites are still under the responsibility of their company caretaker, they are in the OWAA orphanage so that they might find the recognition and care they deserve. With no time limits on how long a well can sit dormant, many sit in various states of disrepair and remediation, with leaks, spills and excess gas.
Learn more at: www.orphanwelladoptionagency.com.
Thank you Canada Council for the Arts and Alberta Foundation for the Arts for their generous support of this work. The work of the OWAA has been made possible through connections with Surface Rights Groups in Alberta.
Government of Alberta, “Upstream oil and gas liability and orphan well inventory.” Alberta, Government of Alberta, 2020, https://www.alberta.ca/upstream-oil-and-gas-liability-and-orphan-well-inventory.aspx. Accessed 26 Feb 2020.
Orphan Well Association, “FAQ.” Orphan Well Association, 2020, http://www.orphanwell.ca/faq. Accessed 28 Feb 2020.
 Abandoned is an industry term for a well that has been permanently dismantled, meaning that the surface infrastructure was removed, and the well is plugged with cement and capped. Not all abandoned wells are orphan wells, most of the abandoned wells in the province are still the responsibility of the company owner. After abandonment, the next step is to reclaim the site.
Alana Bartol comes from a long line of water witches. Her site-responsive works explore divination as a way of understanding across places, species, and bodies. Through collaborative and individual works, she creates relationships between the personal sphere and the landscape, particular to this time of ecological crisis. A multidisciplinary artist with a B.F.A. from the University of Windsor and an M.F.A. from Detroit’s Wayne State University, she has been a visitor to Treaty 7 territory living and working in Mohkinstsis (Calgary), Alberta for 5 years. Bartol’s work has been exhibited and presented nationally and internationally in galleries and festivals. In 2019, she was longlisted for the Sobey Art Award. She currently teaches at Alberta University of the Arts.
"Shifting Baseline Syndrome" originally appeared in Vallum 13.2
Aaron Kreuter is the author of the poetry collection Arguments for Lawn Chairs (Guernica Editions, 2016) and the short story collection You and Me, Belonging (Tightrope Books, 2018), which won the Miramichi Reader's 2019 'The Very Best!' Short Fiction Award and was shortlisted for a Vine Award for Canadian Jewish Literature. Aaron is an assistant fiction editor at Pithead Chapel. He lives in Toronto, Canada, where he is currently writing a novel that takes place at Jewish sleepover camp. Follow him on Twitter @aaronkreuter.
Ryanne Kap is a Chinese-Canadian writer from Strathroy, Ontario. Her work has been featured in Grain Magazine, Scarborough Fair, Ricepaper Magazine, Feelszine, and The Unpublished City Volume II. Following her BA in English and creative writing at the University of Toronto Scarborough, she will be pursuing an MA in English at Western University.
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.
WATCHING THE DULL EDGES (THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE OF A 23°27′ TILT)
Watching Dull Edges (the northern hemisphere of a 23°27′ tilt) is a series of photographs documenting the act of sitting in Canada during the winter of 2017 carefully watching the last snowfall of the year melting inside a test tube. It is a meditation on what it means to be living through the end of planetary regularities, like the seasons as we have come to know them. Winter in Canada as long months of accumulating snow fall will shortly be no more, if it isn’t already gone; this work considers what it means to live with this awareness.
Watching Dull Edges (the northern hemisphere of a 23°27′ tilt) is a work about paying attention to change, even when it arrives with slowly, or with dull edges. It is about staying still to attune oneself to a loss whose material and temporal dimensions are so vast we struggle to make sense of them. How do we stop to not just notice but truly register and mourn these losses accumulating? What practices can we enact to connect our lived experiences of the world with this urgent new reality?
Lisa Hirmer is an interdisciplinary artist who works across visual media, social practice, performance and occasionally writing. She is primarily concerned with collective relationships: that which exists between things, rather than simply within them—particularly in relation to collective beliefs and in human relations with the more-than human world. Her work finds home both in gallery contexts and an expanded field of other public spaces. It has been shown across Canada and internationally. She has received numerous grants and residencies for her work including from Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and Camargo Foundation.
Lisa Hirmer would like to acknowledge The Art Gallery of Ontario for project support.
First they told me
the future would solve
Then they told me
would solve the future.
The present is the world
I’m not allowed there.
They know this.
I begin a string
of letters, picketing
in the babies’ cups
are full of Roundup.
one girl chirps.
"Circles" previously appeared in Conjunctions 73.
Rae Armantrout's book Wobble (Wesleyan, 2018) was a finalist for the National Book Award. A new collection, Conjure, is forthcoming from Wesleyan in Sept. 2020. She was recently interviewed in The Paris Review's "Art of Poetry" series.
Marco Reiter is an artist whose works include photography, sculpture and installation art. His mixed-media assemblages combine photographic images with wood, metal, and discarded materials. A long-time meditation student, Marco’s work is contemplative, and explores ideas around transformation, healing, and interconnection, often relating to human relations with the natural world, and ecology. As a lifelong “maker”—he’s been a carpenter for more than 16 years—Marco embraces building as a mode of expression. His photography has been exhibited in Toronto and Kingston and featured in such publications as The New Quarterly and The Animal Game (Tightrope Books).
Sarah Mangle's work is peopled with beautifully flawed characters. Her work is concerned with growth, feelings, shaky lines and truth-telling. Sarah is white and queer and grew up in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada. Sarah Mangle’s bookworks, postcards and zines are sold internationally. Her large format felt works have been exhibited locally in Montreal, where she has resided on and off since 2000. Sarah Mangle's work has been featured in the Globe and Mail, Hello Giggles, Shameless Magazine, Art/iculations, The Montreal Review of Books, Nat Brut and Broken Pencil. Sarah Mangle is currently working on a comic about the lesbian-owned import export store in her small hometown and her teenage attempt to be hired there. It is set to be published in an anthology with Conundrum Press in 2020. She curates a comic and zine distro at Depanneur Le Pick Up and makes ongoing comic work about the benign cyst in her brain.
Social Media Things:
Instagram + Facebook: @sarahmangle
Watch Your Head is an online anthology of creative works devoted to the climate crisis and climate justice.
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