Forage: Speaking to You

by janeO

Jane Odchowen

            Rita Wong, a local of Vancouver, British Columbia. She is a teacher, a writer and a researcher that speaks through her creative writings, poems.

            One of her promising work is her collection of poems in the book entitled Forage. Her poems talk about confidential issues such as environmental and political issues, to which over all contributes to economic disaster. She expresses her subject through the use of extra textual elements such as, use of research, photos and epigraphs in her poetry. Her creativeness moulds the poetry into a beautiful and meaningful work that raises awareness to such issues.

            Her use of references adds credibility and authority to the poems. Just as she includes a reference to the native and borrowed names to which the names of the provinces of Canada are derived in the poem forage, fumage:

                        Verb the kanata, verb the ottawa, verb the saskatchewan, the                                                                      

                        Manitoba, quebec, start in the middle of rupert’s lament And work                                                            

                        Out, start from the coasts and work in, start (30)

            This particular poem is about colinialization and how it creates a big difference to the country after they have occupied the land. And Wong uses the particular native words to raise awareness that these are native words, and not a conquerors’ language. She indicates the reference to “the political economy of conquest and trade [that] can give more detailed answers than philology”(31).

            Rita Wong also acknowledges the issue of genetically modified products in her poems nervous organism and the girl who ate rice almost every day. She uses creative words such as “jellypo fishtato”, “jellypish for tato smack” and she also gives a direct description to the “science lab… [in her] esophagus”, as well as a direct accusation to “industrial food [that] defeats nutrition” (20). Wong uses her poems to raise awareness against the unnatural way of producing products especially foods. Her poem the girl who ate rice almost every day summons everyone by mentioning the “dangerous allergies and surprising properties [which] make[s] each object that cross her lips an epiphany.” She has managed to tell a story with the character of a girl in a world where everything is modified, like the huge beets crossed with the cow and causes the beets to be huge (16). Wong also adds the reference to the “US patent database” (16) and asks her readers to do a more in depth research about the subject. In this way, she expecting the readers’ curiosity would lead them to the awareness of the issue.

            Over all, Rita’s poems are beautiful and are very strait forward. This makes the readers understand her goal more easily, as to raise awareness with the given issues.

Word count: 448


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