Writing with/against/as Extraction in So-Called Canada: Poets on Poetics — Introduction

To complement, trouble, question, and expand the content of the special issue on poetics and extraction, this forum collects statements of poetics by poets in so-called Canada who engage with extraction, or resist extraction, as subject matter, poetic technique, and political or decolonial praxis. We are delighted and so grateful to present this collection of statements by Kazim Ali, Madhur Anand, Lesley Battler, Lindsay Bird, Warren Cariou, Adam Dickinson, Cecily Nicholson, Kelly Shepherd, Douglas Walbourne-Gough, Jennifer Wickham, and Rita Wong.


Many of the statements in this forum were first prepared for oral delivery at two online events that we hosted, together with Warren Cariou, at the University of Manitoba Institute for the Humanities (UMIH) in 2022. Using the call for submissions for this special issue as a prompt, we invited poets whose work we recognized as resonating in some way with extraction to participate in the events. We asked each poet to read some of their creative work and to offer a statement about their writing practice in relation to extraction. In organizing these events, we were mindful of drawing together poets, writers, and activists who write and organize on, with, and from a range of regions, territories, and embodied perspectives across Canada. We are grateful to present statements that speak to poetics and extraction in the context of anti-pipeline mobilization and land and water defence in British Columbia, labour in the tar sands of Alberta, hydro justice in Manitoba, extractive literary and social histories of Newfoundland, colonial and scientific extractions in India and Ontario, CanLit itself as extractive, and more. We would like to thank Dr. Cariou and the UMIH for their support. One presenter whose statement is not part of this forum, Nduka Otiono, spoke and read poetry about his experience of petrocultures in the Niger Delta and Alberta, and about the importance of ecopoetics and ecocriticism; we wish to acknowledge Dr. Otiono’s contributions to this conversation. We would also like to thank Canadian Literature for their generous provision of a venue for these short-form, hybrid, and self-reflexive statements on poetics in relation to extraction. And we would especially like to thank the forum contributors for their insightful, powerful, challenging, and generative sharing on this theme.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.