The water belongs to itself. undercurrent reflects on the power and sacredness of water--largely underappreciated by too many--whether it be in the form of ocean currents, the headwaters of the Fraser River or fluids in the womb. Exploring a variety of poetic forms, anecdote, allusion and visual elements, this collection reminds humanity that we are water bodies, and we need and deserve better ways of honouring this.
Poet Rita Wong approaches water through personal, cultural and political lenses. She humbles herself to water both physically and spiritually: "i will apprentice myself to creeks & tributaries, groundwater & glaciers / listen for the salty pulse within, the blood that recognizes marine ancestry." She witnesses the contamination of First Nations homelands and sites, such as Gregoire Lake near Fort McMurray, AB: "though you look placid, peaceful dibenzothiophenes / you hold bitter, bitumized depths." Wong points out that though capitalism and industry are supposed to improve our quality of life, they're destroying the very things that give us life in the first place. Listening to and learning from water is key to a future of peace and creative potential.
undercurrent emerges from the Downstream project, a multifaceted, creative collaboration that highlights the importance of art in understanding and addressing the cultural and political issues related to water. The project encourages public imagination to respect and value water, ecology and sustainability. Visit downstream.ecuad.ca.
Rita Wong is the author of four books of poetry: monkeypuzzle (Press Gang, 1998), forage (Nightwood Editions, 2007), sybil unrest (Line Books, 2008, with Larissa Lai) and undercurrent (Nightwood Editions, 2015). forage was the winner of the 2008 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and Canada Reads Poetry 2011. Wong is an associate professor in the Critical and Cultural Studies department at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design on the unceded Coast Salish territories also known as Vancouver.