In “Tarhands: A Messy Manifesto,” Métis scholar Warren Cariou rewrites William Carlos Williams’ poem “This Is Just to Say” into a time capsule to be opened in a hundred years:
This is just to say
We’ve burned up all the oil
and poisoned the air
you were probably hoping to breathe.
It was delicious
the way it burned
so bright and
Cariou’s poem is an extraction poem in several senses. It is about oil and the petrostate, and it mirrors the modes and moods of a petro-capitalist imaginary. It is also an act of extraction—of mining, cracking, and refining Williams’ poem and the literary tradition. Cariou sums up the history and the poetics of the settler-colonial extractive state, with its illegitimate literal and literary land claims, its pretenses of conservation and of wondering “where is here” while occupying stolen land, and its always failing repression of the wilderness. For Cariou and his imagined reader, it all amounts to “just” a selfish and short-sighted folly. Situated within the manifesto form, the poem becomes available as one mode or element of a larger argument for cultural and social change.
Cariou’s intervention also belongs to traditions of resource, extractive, oil, and land poetics in so-called Canada. These traditions include Indigenous poetics as “land speaking” (Jeannette Armstrong) and resistance literature (Emma LaRocque); Confederation-era poetry like Isabella Valency Crawford’s Malcolm’s Katie; Robert Service’s mining ballads; the logger poetry of Robert Swanson and Peter Trower; oil poetry from Peter Christensen’s Rig Talk to Lesley Battler’s Endangered Hydrocarbons; diasporic poetics on place, identity, property, and land, including Dionne Brand’s Land to Light On, Canisia Lubrin’s The Dyzgraphxst, and Brandon Wint’s Divine Animal; plastic poetry by Fiona Tinwei Lam and Adam Dickinson; activist and anti-pipeline poetry such as Rita Wong’s undercurrent and The Enpipe Line; climate change poetry as in Watch Your Head; Indigenous, Black, and speculative futurisms such as Tanya Tagaq’s Retribution and Kaie Kellough’s fiction and sound performances; and myriad other examples not listed here.
In tying varied poetic forms and modes together under the sign of resources or extraction for a special issue on “Poetics and Extraction,” we do not mean to impose a particular framework as universally portable to a range of specific contexts and histories. Rather, we ask, what does an attention to resources and/or extraction animate in our analysis of cultural, literary, and poetic responses to this place, the land on and with which we live? This special issue engages the theme of poetics and extraction broadly, considering poetry, poetics, and aesthetics in, of, and against extraction and the extractive state. It highlights historical, contemporary, innovative, and experimental poetics related to energy, resources, and land. It uses the lens of extractive poetics to consider how we got to the intersecting crises of global warming, environmental racism, ecocide, and genocide in Canada, and also to envision decolonial, reciprocal land relations for a just energy transition.
We are especially interested in contributions that examine energy or resource poetry, poetics, and aesthetics from the perspectives of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour and critical race theory, 2SLGBTQQIA and queer theory, workers and labour studies, women’s and gender studies, and poets, artists, and cultural workers.
We welcome submissions of scholarly articles on poetry, poetics, visual art, cultural texts, performance, and aesthetics. We also welcome poetry, essays on poetics, and hybrid/creative forms.
Possible topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Poetry, visual art, performance, aesthetics, popular culture
- Extractive industries, including coal, oil and gas, mining, logging, nuclear energy, industrial farming, and hydro
- Renewable and reciprocal energy systems (traditional/Indigenous lifeways, wind, solar, sustainable hydro, biopower, animacy)
- Poetics and aesthetics of the staples trap, the oil patch, climate change
- Ambience, affect, anxiety, and the energy unconscious of the petro-state
- Comparative analyses of Canadian, Indigenous, and diasporic texts alongside texts from other places
- Poetry, poetics, and aesthetics of environmental racism in Canada
- Poetics and aesthetics of just energy transition in Canada
- Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour poetics related to energy, resources, or land
- Texts related to the oil and gas industry, including practices such as extraction, production, transport, marketing, pollution, combustion, capture, and sequestration
- Texts about plastics, polymers, toxicity, and the ubiquity of oil
- Extractive poetics; poetics of extraction; resource aesthetics and poetics; petropoetics; energo-poetics
- Anti-oil or pro-oil poetics, aesthetics, and culture
- Extraction and the poetics and politics of gender, transgender, sex, and purism
- Class and extractive culture
- Disability and extractive culture
- Climate despair as it relates to anxieties about the efficacy of poetry/cultural production
- The oil sensorium, infrastructure, and petropoetics beyond poetry
- Theorizing petropoetics in petrocultures/the energy humanities
- Methods/ethics for the study of extraction; the limits of extraction as a theoretical framework for literary study
All submissions to Canadian Literature must be original, unpublished work. Essays should follow current MLA bibliographic format (MLA Handbook, 9th ed.). Word length for articles is 6,500-8,000 words, which includes endnotes and works cited.
The journal recognizes that the current moment is full of challenges and precarities for the Canadian Literature community. We are open to considering submissions that go outside the bounds of conventional research articles, especially collaborative efforts and submissions from graduate students, early career scholars, artists, and activists.
Please feel free to contact the journal editor, Christine Kim, at email@example.com, or the special issue guest editors, Max Karpinski (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Melanie Dennis Unrau (email@example.com), to discuss ideas ahead of time. Submissions should be uploaded to OJS by the deadline of 15 April 2022. Our Submission Guidelines can be found at canlit.ca/submissions. General questions about the special issue may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please limit images accompanying the submission to those receiving substantial attention in the article. Note that contributors are responsible for obtaining permission to reproduce images in their article, and must pay any permission costs. The editors can provide a sample template for permission requests and permissions must be cleared before publication. Please send low resolution images (small jpegs), in separate attachments. If the article is accepted, high quality images will be required.