Rabbit Lake explores the concerns of citizens who testified at hearings held by the Rabbit Lake Uranium Mine Environmental Assessment Panel throughout Saskatchewan in 1993. The poems that form my thesis are both lyrical and experimental, derived in part from the voices found in the Rabbit Lake transcripts. Inspired by rhizome theory and rhizomorphous structures, the voices in my thesis are nomadic: their primary impulse is to map interconnected histories and geographies; in so doing, these voices transcend boundaries and coalesce to form a polyphonic, non-linear narrative. The influence of ecocritical theory is reflected in poems that draw the reader’s attention to the non-human world affected by uranium mining, most notably in an interspersed series of experiments detailing various forms of lichen found throughout Saskatchewan. Various other textual experiments, including collage and erasure, are lines of flight within the rhizome of the thesis. The inclusion of “(inaudible)” passages found in the transcripts is intended to draw the reader’s attention toward what was misheard or left unsaid at the hearings. The presence of an “unknown” speaker is designed as a poetic and political intervention that enables elaborations. Beginning with Canada’s historical involvement in the Manhattan Project, that is, the United States’ earliest attempt to build a nuclear weapon, my thesis moves from Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories, and into the lakes and waterways of Saskatchewan’s north. The voices that emerge, situated in association with lakes and rivers, include a chorus of women and a chorus of Indigenous elders, an invented uranium mining corporation, “Uraneco,” and several scientists, including a biologist and geophysicist, as well as an invented cosmochemist and limnologist. From Saskatchewan’s northern waterways, the voices wander outward, evoking sites affected by the nuclear industry beyond Saskatchewan’s borders, from crops in the province’s south historically affected by fallout from nuclear weapons’ testing in Nevada, to radioactive detritus left in the deserts of Iraq due the United States’ use of depleted Canadian uranium in munitions. The intention behind this figurative explosion of the thesis is to illustrate the extent to which a seemingly isolated uranium mine may affect the whole world.
Saskatchewan, Uranium mining, Poetry, Lyric and experimental, Polyphony, Rhizome theory, Ecocriticism, Ecofeminism
Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
Interdisciplinary Centre for Culture and Creativity