UPDATED 2.15.2022
It seemed clear we would need afterwords because that was what the days felt like: living in the wake of something…I needed distraction from worrying about what skills I would have…what I would have to offer. Renee Gladman, “The Order of Time”

Part of Collective Offerings, curated by Vince Rozario and Mitra Fakhrashrafi, Afterwords is a series of performances with degraded land in Guelph, Ontario and Portland, Oregon: a participatory knowledge sharing and plant foraging walk along a landfilled river bank, ritual medicine making, and offerings to disturbed urban spaces (“vacant, private” lots abundant with plant life, temporarily used for shelter). This work was formed out of a collaboration between Christina Kingsbury and I (several months of asynchronous virtual communication that forged an ongoing and genuine friendship between us), the generous land beside a rivers, and the resilient plant kin that hosted us on these disturbed grounds.

Digital versions of the three takeaways avavilable in the gallery: a poem broadsheet written by me, a collaboratively drawn map of the walk along the Eramosa River and an invatation written by Christina. 


Folks were invited to a communal journaling session. A collaborative document was be sent out to those interested in anonymously adding their words to a polyphonic assemblage of meandering thoughts. It began with excerpts from an asynchronous written exchange between Christina Kingsbury and Meech Boakye as they worked through the muddiness of trans-plant ecologies, proposed rituals for healing from extractive landscapes, and became friends. The document can be accessed here


CK: We talked a little bit on Zoom about how mainstream conservation practices frame thinking about native/non-native plants in dualistic and often militaristic and zenophobic ways. This often manifests as romanticizing a notion of essentialist or pure “nature” and contrasts that with language referring to non-native species as invasive and alien —something to be feared and eradicated. If we move towards considering a more complex consideration of plant communities...

MB: As I mentioned on our call, I’m  trying to form a relationship with these plants, reciprocating with gratidue and acts of care. I’m working on these mini relics, altar sites, burial sites...I’m not sure yet what they will be called but the idea is that these objects are fully compostable, contain medicinal herbs would be buried at a few sites I’ve been visiting and foraging from. Ultimately, I’m trying to say thank you as best as I can. What I make would merely be a bit more long-term than previous thank-you’s which are usually hummed songs, or touch, or water...

MB: However, I’m worried that although the contents will all be biodegradable, perhaps a burial could alter the composition of the soil in a way that’s harmful...and I’m thinking about ideas of displacement and burial in these empty lots perhaps not being my domain to speak of as a housed person. But at the same time, I am grappling with death and hauntings and displaced ancestors. I’m thinking about ghosts as comfort. I’m finding objects in my dreams I’m trying to remember.

CK: We are in the midst of a drought here - it is heavy, so hot, the soil is incredibly parched and dusty. The setting sun and clouds are aglow with hazy and surreal pinks, oranges and reds as smoke from wildfires north of here scatter the yellows blues and violets from sight.  At the landfill I am watering this almost one acre garden with what feels like a tiny watering can

MB: I am thinking about the heat today, it is supposed to be 39° tomorrow. The sky is starting to get smokey.

CK:...I also relate to these plant bodies that are doing their best to survive in contaminated landscapes, growing and living and relating in the ways they know how. There is something here too...about the visibility of bodies impacted by contamination. That there is an impulse within colonial/capitalist society to cover up, erase or hide certain kinds of illnesses (cancer patients’ hairless heads). And that perhaps this is connected to the impulse to eradicate the invasive plants growing in a landscape. In some ways, perhaps the visibility of these bodies act as a testament and a trace of harm and violence enacted in a landscape.

CK: I want to be careful in how I express this not to re-collapse into simplified, dualistic or anthropomorphic (in the worst sense) modes. I am interested in finding ways to stay in the complexities around this conversation. I also think about the limits of my own positionality and perspective of my white bodied settler self and wonder if it is my place to speak or put words to this. Ultimately, I have a strong hunch that these plants have a lot to teach us about how bodies and beings survive and heal in landscapes that are marked and impacted by degradation and contamination. And also about our responsibilities to the politics and history of place.

MB: I’m dreaming up carrier bag bundles to offer to “vacant” lots as a thank you for their abundance and teachings. I’m also thinking of them as a greeting...

A list, just like this; garlic, skins; hydrosol, fennel, mint, yarrow, bramble leaf, bioplastic, gelatin; memory, not mine; cordage, plantain; tea, sun-dried blend (calendula, tulsi, anise hyssop), avocado & red onion skin dyed pouch; mullein seed pod candles; a poem

CK: I am thinking about creating a recipe, score,  or an invitation that could be a container, a receptacle (thinking of Ursula K. Leguin here) to hold and weave and entangle some of the complexity (the harvest) of our conversations  

A poem broadsheet with text that ebbs and flows in curved lines. There are three photos of trees in various states and ASCII illustrations of butterflies, flowers and a winged horse.

Wall text in vinyl and Buckthorn ink, poem, map with invitation, seed carrier bags: native seeds (Joe Pye Weed, New England Aster, Goldenrod, Blue Vervain), cotton fabric dyed with Black Walnut, Sumac and Goldenrod collected from the Eramosa riverbanks, string, instructions.

Wall text in vinyl and Buckthorn ink, poem, map with invitation, seed carrier bags: native seeds (Joe Pye Weed, New England Aster, Goldenrod, Blue Vervain), cotton fabric dyed with Black Walnut, Sumac and Goldenrod collected from the Eramosa riverbanks, string, instructions.

As Christina and I worked on Afterwords, I was comissioned by Brian Gee to create a comic for The Globe & Mail’s weekly summer comic series. Writing became a perfect container for some of the thoughts I was sharing with Christina and helped me realize that poetry might be the way to document this work in the gallery.  

A comic made for the Globe & Mail called These are Feelings Now. Please contact for full transcribed text.

View These Are Feelings Now on The Globe & Mail’s website. 

The Art Gallery of Guelph as well as the Eramosa and Grand River systems are located on the treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, subject to the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant. The “Dish” was a bowl of hunted animal meat; one spoon so that no person would take more than they needed and everyone would be able to eat, no knives. Everyone living within the borders referred to as Canada is a treaty person and responsible for sharing and sustaining the land for ourselves and the next generation.

View Collective Offerings on the Art Gallery of Guelph’s Website.