Body burdens: the materiality of work in Rita Wong's 'Forage'

Walton, S (2019) 'Body burdens: the materiality of work in Rita Wong's 'Forage'.' In: Walton, J.L and Luker, E, eds. Poetry and work: work in modern and contemporary Anglophone poetry. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 263-290. ISBN 9783030261245

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Rita Wong’s work is fundamentally concerned with exploring and exposing the entanglement of economic, subjective and ecological exploitation. Wong is an Asian Canadian writer who, as a critic, has addressed theories of work and labour, both in regards to Asian racialization and labour in literature, and the ‘work’ of the writer within and against capitalism. This chapter, however, focuses on Wong’s poetry, specifically her 2007 collection 'forage'. Much of the poetry collected in forage addresses the social and environmental injustices of global capitalism by following the disguised and mystified routes of supply chains to reveal the materiality of work. The forms and techniques of Wong’s poetry—including ruptured lyric, found text, open field poetics and citation—reveal the movement of materials around the world, at the same time as they attend to the experiences of migrant and indentured workers exposed to noxious materials and degraded environments. Before poetry is discussed, however, it is necessary to introduce the theories of transcorporeality and slow violence. This theoretical framework will help reveal how Wong’s poetry advances a new way of seeing work and exposing capitalist complicity in human suffering and environmental damage by making visible the materiality of labour exchange. Materiality emerges as a fundamental consideration in any theory of work, proposing a counter-narrative to theories of full automation, deterritorialisation and dematerialisation.

Item Type: Book Chapter or Section
Keywords: poetry, transcorporeality, Rita Wong, ecology
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
UoA: English Literature & Language
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Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2019 16:17
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 01:40
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