A New World

by Brian Rapanos

For many people poetry could be simplified into the following words: boring, pointless, or annoying. Some would describe poetry as “wishy-washy” or lacking in a central objective. Rita Wong’s Forage is ample evidence against the aforementioned stereotypes. In fact, Wong may have proven that the pen is indeed stronger than the sword.

While reading Forage I am frequently visited with an image of Wong on the top of a mountainous garbage hill, book in hand, reciting at the top of her lungs her poems while below her is some fantastic and terrifying monster. This monster is not your typical monster. This monster could not be anything as lame as a vampire or goblin—but instead occupies something much worse: the corporations. In fact, it is almost as if Wong is a preacher. With each poem she preaches to the listener about the ecological injustices, the conglomerations, and genetically modified foods. Wong is persuasive.

When experiencing any great work of art, whether music or literature, it often takes repeated exposure to be granted any form of understanding. Oftentimes first impressions are confused and unsure. Regardless, any great work of art often has a magnetic-like quality. Forage has this quality. While at first glance the reader might be discouraged from the unconventional layout of some of the poems, with repeated readings Wong’s words intensify and crescendo into a near deafening roar. When gazing into poems such as “vessel” or “reconnaissance”, you are forced to not only enter into Wong’s world, but into your own self. This book of poetry might turn you into an environmentalist. At the very least, this book will cause you to question not only some of the present environmental problems, but also your individual role in this world.

This book marks a change in the tide. From henceforth, life will not be governed by anything but the individual.  Much like the truth embedded in Wong’s poems, we too, already posses everything needed. There is no need to look far as “faith hides in little pockets like the heart and the throat.” In Wong’s words, “the next shift may be the biggest one yet, the union of the living, from mosquito to manatee to mom.”

Word Count: 369

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