Special Issue of Canadian Literature: “Poetics and Extraction”

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From the introduction by Max Karpinski and Melanie Dennis Unrau:

“What do literary and cultural scholars talk about when we talk about extraction? What does an attention to resources and/or extraction animate in our analysis of cultural, literary, and poetic responses to so-called Canada? Understanding Canada as referring, always problematically, to the land on and with which we live, the settler-colonial nation-state, and an ideological cultural project, in what ways might cultural production and scholarship in the field of “Canadian literature” address the unfolding, intensifying, and deeply entangled environmental and social crises that mark the present moment? As literary scholars attentive to extraction in the context of settler colonialism’s ongoing manifestations, how does our practice shift when the texts we engage are produced by bodies at risk, in conflict, and on the front lines and frontiers of extractive capital?”

We are pleased to share a special edition of Canadian Literature titled “Poetics and Extraction.” The issue tackles the extractive logics of settler-colonial Canada through ecopoetic pieces that critique, subvert, examine, and transform racial capitalism within Canada’s landscape. Particularly focused on imagining caring alternatives to our extractivist economy, this issue is compiled of articles, statements of poetics, poems, and book reviews.

Founded in 1959, Canadian Literature is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal that broadly focuses on on Canada as a journalistic landscape. Access the issue online for free or purchase a copy on the journal website.

Included in the special issue are the following:


“Poetics and Extraction” by Max Karpinski and Melanie Dennis Unrau


Pro Pelle Cutem: The Subject(s) of Extraction in Fred Stenson’s The Trade by Rūta Šlapkauskaitė

“Quite here you reach”: T(h)inking Language, Place, Extraction with Dionne Brand’s Land to Light On by Louis M. Maraj

Al Moritz’s Anti-Extractivist Style: Non-Instrumental Instrumentalism and the Poetics of Materiality by Shane Neilson

“Stinking as Thinking” in Warren Cariou’s “Tarhands: A Messy Manifesto” by Stephanie Oliver

Low Class Oil Trash and the Politico-Aesthetics of the Fossilized Proletariat by Jacob McLean


In the Company of Good and Evil in the Land of Narrative Drift by Ross Belot

Extraction Poem #3 by Kristian Enright

Elemental by Nedjo Rogers

Get a Load of the River by K.B. Thors

Tusk Hunters by Catherine Greenwood

No Help But Laughter by Erin Soros


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

Introduction by Max Karpinski and Melanie Dennis Unrau

Writing Northern Light by Kazim Ali

A Preparation Containing the Active Ingredient of a Substance in Concentrated Form by Madhur Anand

Interventions by Lesley Battler

Wild and Careless: The Work Camp Life by Lindsay Bird

Petrography and Bitumen Poetics by Warren Cariou

Metabolic Poetics: An Immersive, Interoceptive Approach by Adam Dickinson

Through Extraction by Cecily Nicholson

Pocket Notebook Poetics by Kelly Shepherd

It Fills My Heart to Burst: Writing Crow Gulch as an Act of Care and Community by Douglas Walbourne-Gough

Reclaiming Matrilineal Roles in the Face of Colonial Violence by Jennifer Wickham

Water Teaches Love and Law by Rita Wong

For more information about the journal, please visit the Canadian Literature journal page.

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Asad Jessani

Asad Jessani is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, majoring in Canadian Studies and Political Science. Currently interning at the Network in Canadian History and Environment, his interests include Canadian history, cultural identity-making, and political theory.

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