Posts tagged ‘Rita Wong’

April 7, 2011

The Earth is Calling Out

by kristiemendoza

A pleasant read that unites language play with lyrical reflection on the late consumerist background is found in Rita Wong’s Forage. It is clear that Wong has observed everything to seem materialistic in this moment of time, so in her collection of poems, we instantaneously wonder about questions of labour exploitation, provision in this age of globalization, and the stress that has cumulated on profit limitations.

Given the catastrophes of the international economics, the current discussions regarding global warming, and the broadening difference between the rich and poor of society, Wong’s work uncannily seems almost psychic. While being part of a growing Asian-Canadian poetry community, her collection powerfully speaks to them. Korean and Chinese characters come up on the page to interrupt a single semantic reading that was being experienced. The lyrics break up into different parts all throughout the text which holds a more dynamic prose in poetry.

Wong writes about the elegy for a Korean activist who killed himself while protesting the World Trade Organizations polices in “for Lee Kyung Hae Korean farmer martyred in Cancun.” The characters for Lee’s name has been widely apprehended as a racial politic instead of an ethnic politic. Wong poses with an interethnic thought through “WTO/smashes rice farmers/into the enduring/earth” (62). She brings us back to Canada by “biking down the august streets of vancouver I find my pride at powell street” (72). The shift between Asian culture and Canadian culture is outstanding.

Her attention towards other cultures is a way of thinking about diversity and the encouragement of change is greatly invigorating. Rita Wong is an exceedingly brilliant writer who is able to create meaning against each other in juxtaposition. This collection would be appropriate for any course on contemporary poetics in literature.

Word Count: 292

April 7, 2011

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

by spencersmyl

Rita Wong promulgates through her most recent collection of poems called Forage, a rather fierce and informative rebuke towards modern political and cooperate discourse and their unfavourable implications on the environment. Targeting these developments, Wong allows her relationship with the environment to flow out to the reader though her poems in a hope to re-bond and re-connect them to the earth and its environment. In such an informative and sometimes blunt manner, many of these some short and some long poems, focus on the unfair developments which occur in rebound to the crusades of global economic capitalism. Illustrating this begins right from the cover, hills of outdated computer technology proportionally fill up most of the cover; it’s contrasted with the smaller upper portion of the cover with that of real hills. Symbolizing precisely what is to come in Wong’s Forage; a sadly miscued and forgotten reality of what really matters.

One thing that Wong does throughout Forage is that she is able to always write in such an informative manner, without loosing her creativity and abstractness in her poems. The reader can sometime feel that life is a rather redundant thing, where we the average person are lost in a myopic trance, sleepwalking through our daily tasks. Through these developments Wong can begin to elaborate and point out the irrationalities of society and the capitalist system, telling the reader wake up to reality. In the poem ‘perverse subsidies’ Wong states “will pay for you to take my garbage away so I never have to look at it, never have to imagine the roaches & rats…ragged underwear…[and] seagulls & crows feeding on rotting leftovers…”, from this Wong goes even further to talk about the economic implications of war and cooperate development, and that it is something of the same thing we do when we leave our garbage out at the end of our drive way; we turn a cold shoulder, as once it is out of sight it is no longer our problem, it’s someone else’s. This is exactly how Wong bases her work – she builds her poems small and then ends them in a larger perspective. This is why and how Wong makes her pieces so informative and powerful to the reader.

The beautiful thing about Rita Wong’s informative poetry is that it offers people a different medium in which they can come to terms with understanding modern day implications and developments. In this case she poises to the reader the political and corporate injustice towards the environment in the form of poetry. No news article, no scholarly journal, no political and cooperate rhetoric, and no ideological spectrum can offer such a perspective and personal understanding that can find refuge within almost any reader. That is why if you are tired of reading the same old information coming down the same old grapevine, then you should most certainly get your hands on Wong’s Forage.


April 6, 2011

Big vs. Little

by stefmiele

Rita Wong’s book Forage, published in 2007, is a collection of environmental friendly poems that primarily focuses on the modern day capitalist political ambiance. The instructional nature of Wong’s poems frequently feels like an effort to bombard the reader with syntactical information rather than it’s poetic concern, as well as reflecting the explicit volume of information that Northern Americans ingest daily. This makes the book interesting, as taking notice at the motives, which would make someone like Rita Wong, to choose a collection of poems instead of an informational essay, which sometimes while reading, feels like one. Wong also puts forth her opinion on large corporations such as Disney, McDonalds, Walmart and so on, across the world, particularly in North America. Parts throughout the collection of poems make me feel like she wants us to start a revolution against big corporations, support the little business owners and disregard larger businesses entirely, much like a small independently owned and run coffee shop vs. a major corporation like Starbucks.

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April 2, 2011

Rita Wong | In Dialogue

by Aurelea

Here at Capilano, Rita Wong’s 2007 collection forage is our final book in English 103-05 and 06 | Introduction to Contemporary Literature for the Spring term.  Rita has generously participated in an at-a-distance Q/A session with the English 103 students.

The students’ questions were collected on Wednesday, March 30th.  In the process of answering the questions, Rita grouped them questions thematically.  Here are Rita’s responses.

Grouping 1

For responses to the following questions, please see the comments at Litter-a-terre:

  • Why include Chinese characters in a book of English language poetry?
  • How did you come to explore these topics? Language? Capitalism? Environment? Crises?
  • What do you hope to achieve by bringing up questionable environmental and bio-tech practices?
  • Your pieces often read like essays in the form of poetry. Why poetry?  Note: Scroll down to the very bottom of the litter-a-terre site for this response.
  • What is the logic behind the slashes and jumbled words in “nervous organism”?
  • Are “fluorine” and the “the girl who ate rice almost every day” based on personal experience? Answer: Yes—both personal experience and imagination—I’ve never managed to go underground to explore sewers, but maybe someday.

Addendum: For me, poetry creatively engages with our daily lives, with the moments that might otherwise be overlooked, what is both hidden yet within plain view, if we take the time to dwell with the quiet, the embedded, the already present (which could include our cultural inheritances, our socio-economic structures, environmental factors like pollution and resilience, and much more).

Grouping 2 | Writing, Research, Influence

  • What was the inspiration or idea behind the “annotations” that accompany many of the poems?
  • To what extent have your past experiences influenced your poetry?  Who has influenced your development as a poet?  Were there any artists/poets/writers, in particular, influencing you while working on forage?
  • Do you engage in research before writing your poems?  Or do the poems themselves suggest the need for further research on specific topics?
  • What kind of personal and/or educational experience do you have with the topics and materials about which you are writing?  Or do you primarily rely on research?
  • Did you set out specifically to write a book with an explicit political/environmental agenda or did the focus of the book evolve more organically than that?

I’m interested in looking at my everyday life and unpacking some of the things that get overlooked or taken for granted, such as the pollution that is increasingly common in our lives. Today, the experience and concept of pollution is shifting so that it is not merely something out there (smog, huge amounts of plastic trash floating in the ocean) but also something that is inside each and every one of us, human and nonhuman, spread by our shared experience of air, water and food. This is humorously but also effectively shown in books like Slow Death by Rubber Duck, which show how common objects like rubber ducks, sofas, canned food and more, carry with them unintended, cumulative side-effects because of the chemicals they introduce into our daily lives. The term “body burden” refers to the hundreds of chemicals that are now found in the average citizen, chemicals that did not exist in our bodies before World War II. These chemicals have also been found everywhere from Inuit children to polar bears, salmon, and sperm whales. This brings home the point that there is no escape from pollution—that we share a responsibility to keep the planet clean for ourselves and all other living creatures. The pollution manifests itself in everything from allergies to cancers, and various illnesses which have affected my family and friends. [I would also add that we are made of the water, air, and earth in and around us; when they are polluted, so are we. The water, air, and earth continue to sustain our lives, and there is more we can do to help them help us by reducing or eliminating pollution.] While there are many factors to consider, the environmental one needs much more serious attention. The book arose organically from my examination of daily life.

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