Rita Wong Forage Poem

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Rita Wong’s “offering” to Zhi Ma Wu, the Bygone Black Sludge of Nature Rita Wong’s Forage is powerful and unrelenting in its position against chemical harms on the environment, but this stance is not made obvious until after the poem “offering.” This delay is due to Wong’s first paying tribute to the death of the naturally grown, as represented by zhi ma wu, whilst the world progresses toward to the genetically modified. The title of “offering” and Wong’s heritage as a Chinese Canadian alludes to the form of this two-part poem, which consist of a border and a body, as it is illustrative of a bucket and a burning joss paper. The bucket embodies the deceased by receiving the joss paper offerings, and in order to personify the deceased to which…show more content…
The vertical writing of black sesame soup is traditional to Chinese writing and by following the name with descriptions of the land, it imitates one of the first paper offerings burned in a Chinese ancestral worship when one has passed away. This special paper is called a “Land Title” and it specifies two important pieces of information: the deceased’s name and his or her ancestral home. The words bordering the poem meet the criteria of the former by personifying the black sesame soup: “vessels throb on the stretch of skin.” Furthermore, by including descriptions of nature, of “catapult soil desert thrush grasses,” instead of a lab, the poem highlights the organic roots of this black sludge. Thus, in making the border stand out first to the reader, the poem effectively sets the tone as an offering to zhi ma wu, the symbol for all the ‘sludge’ and food naturally derived from
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