Joya: AiR / poet / Emily McGiffin / Canada
“My poetry and scholarly work is concerned with the nexus of landscape, society, and politics. Working in the field of postcolonial ecopoetics, my work examines human relationships with the natural environment and how these are affected by the global political economy, both historically and in the present. I am particularly concerned with decolonization and environmental justice and the ways in which environmental literature, as an activist practice, can help to examine and dismantle oppressive political systems and the environmental degradation that results.
I travelled to Joya: AiR to begin a new poetry manuscript after an inspiring research trip to the UK. My new work is a book-length poem that delves into events and experiences of British colonialism in Canada and South Africa in the early nineteenth century. I was particularly interested in coming to Joya: AiR to undertake a period of focused experimentation in a foreign, rural environment. Ordinary prosaic or lyric language is inadequate for expressing the extent of alienation and difficulties experienced by early colonists and the lasting violence and dispossession wrought on the indigenous populations they encountered. My language experiments over the past several weeks have taken me far outside of my ordinary poetic practice and I am inspired and excited by the results. I leave here with a skeleton of a manuscript, many completed poems and a direction for the work ahead.
Thanks to Joya: AiR for an excellent sojourn and to the amazing new network of friends I made during my stay”.