The Poetry of Rita Wong
“our drowned, bloated arms wave / and who will wave back?”
Current, Climate is an introduction to the environmental and social-justice poetry of Rita Wong. Selections from her poetic oeuvre show how Wong has responded to local and global inequities with outrage, linguistic inventiveness, and sometimes humour.
Wong’s poetry explores the meeting places of life, language, and land—from downtown Vancouver to the headwaters of the Columbia River. Her poems are deeply attentive to places and their names, and especially to the imposition of foreign words on the unceded Indigenous lands of what is otherwise known as British Columbia. Exhorting readers to recognize their responsibilities to the planet and to their communities, Wong’s watershed poetics encompass anger, grief, wit, and hope.
Nicholas Bradley’s introduction situates Wong’s poetry in its literary and cultural contexts, focusing on the role of the author in a time of crisis. In Wong’s case, poetry and political activism are intertwined—and profoundly connected to the land and water that sustain us. The volume concludes with an afterword by Rita Wong that calls for collective action to address the climate crisis and systemic inequities with an “economy of care and solidarity.”