Rita Wong is a bisexual Canadian environmental activist, feminist and contemporary poet currently living and operating in the Coast Salish Lands known as Vancouver; warning the world of impending doom through the power of print media.
Born in Calgary to a family of Chinese immigrants, Wong studied and graduated at the University of Alberta before migrating west to Vancouver to continue her education at the University of British Columbia. In the course of Wong’s poetic career, she has published two books of poetry; monkeypuzzle in 1998 and forage in 2007; her work has also been featured in a variety of poetry anthologies and periodicals such as Parser (2007) and West Coast Line. Wong currently works as an assistant professor the Emily Carr University of Art and design teaching Cultural and Critical Studies.
Rita Wong’s poetry often demonstrates her view and beliefs of the social and ecological state of our world as of today. Her poem “the girl who ate rice everyday” for example protests the genetic modification of food and prompts her readers to conduct further research concerning the amounts and varieties of patents the company Monsanto holds for genetically modified food products. Rita’s poems vary greatly in style and are decorated with lively side comments and regal looking Chinese characters which contribute and add another layer hidden context to the poems.
The poem “recognition/ identification test:” is criticizing the foundations of modern society and its dependence on corporate support and consumerism by making two columns of words that identify with a specific subject. The column on the left represents natural herbs and plants controlled by its surrounding factors and a list of companies that produce widely consumed products in our society. The poem suggests that we are abandoning our past to pursue new technologies and a new altered environment and that we, as humans are abandoning what we ware for novel, undependable notions. Blackberry represents how far we have departed from the world and what kind of coporate vacuum we are sealing ourselves in.
Rita Wong is using her poetry as a medium to spread ecological and social awareness to her readers and warn us of the big shifts foredooming the world and how it will affect us all; from “mosquito to manatee to mom” for she is first an activist and then a poet and writer.