Land Matters by Sanita Fejzić

Sanita Fejzić is an award-winning writer, poet and emerging playwright, as well as a PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University. Land Matters is her reserach-creation long poem exploring the social and ecological grief as a result of living in warring and wasteful hyper-consumer societies.

The long poem is a lament of the social and ecological violences that plague our world, as well as a love letter to the human and other-than-human assemblages we are entangled with.

Land Matters focuses on contemporary dilemmas around human and nonhuman relations from Fejzić’s situated perspective. In Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence, Judith Butler suggests that being in mourning, listening and vulnerability may arrest cycles of violence and shed light on our interdependence with distant others (151). The editors of Art in the Anthropocene claim that climate change, mass species extinction and the threat of our own extinction call for “new modes of address, new styles of … authoring, and new formats and speeds of distribution” (David and Turpin).

Framed as a response to T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, which shows how war, trauma, death and disillusionment following WWI changed the way we think, write and relate, Land Matters is a long poem that re-imagines human to human, and human to other-than- human relations grounded in values of respect, reciprocity and responsibility. As Eileen Crist explains, a change in nomenclature is called for to reflect our transition into the Anthropocene beyond ideas and language that are anthropocentric (129).

Thus, Land Matters finds new words and new syntax for other-than-human agency, grounded in attitudes that may enhance our desire for ecological justice and co-belonging. Interspecies flourishing demands a coming together, a commitment to what Rita Wong calls “the union of the living” (undercurrent, 27). This union, Land Matters suggest, asks of us to courageously accept past trauma in order to transform it in the way Louise Bourgeois means it, as a physical-psychosocial experience of co-healing (Destruction of the Father / Reconstruction of the Father).

As part of the Environmental Racism is Garbage conference, Fejzić and her collaborator, film director Ludmylla Reis of Litera Productions will be:

  • Reading excerpts of the long poem.
  • Showcase a ciné poem of Land Matters.

Sanita Fejzić: Land Matters builds on Sanita Fejzić’s lived experience as a lesbian and secular Muslim first-generation Canadian refugee turned immigrant from “developing” Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her body of work, from poetry, prose to drama, deals with intergenerational trauma, mother-daughter relationships, queer and feminist perspectives of relationship to land and forced exile, as well as respectful, responsible and reciprocal relations between humans and other-than-humans. Environmental racism is a strong undercurrent in her work as every Bosniak refugee knows that our bodies are moved by transnational highways of labour and commerce, and the waste networks immigrants are made to clean.

Ludmylla Reis: Ludmylla Reis’ contribution also comes from lived experience since she lived visa to visa for years up to November 2020 when she became a Permanent Resident to Canada from “developing” Brazil. Ludmylla is a queer newcomer latinx with nine years of storytelling experience under their belt. Her work focuses on economic precarity, gender non-confirming and latinx identities, as well as economic and environmental racism.

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