Page 4 - Dark Matter:Women Witnessing Issue #3 - December 2015
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“The last one was killed in 1959, but there was no funeral and no one cried. I don’t know where his 

tomb is to put flowers on it. I can only wail and mourn his passing in my own way.” 

– Naeemeh Naeemaei

For this issue of Dark Matter, we put out a call for material focusing on “devotion”—and yet much of 

what’s here also revolves around the theme of “extinction.” The paintings of Iranian artist Naeemeh 

Naeemaei are a stunning case in point. Other striking examples: Beverly Naidus’ extinction altars, 

Megan Hollingsworth’s work with ex•tinc•tion wit•ness, Sara Wright’s witnessing of her beloved trees in 

“Tree Holocaust.” In fact, extinction could be said to haunt most of the material in this issue—perhaps 

not surprising considering the journal’s mission, but also, as I came to realize, the intimate relationship 

between extinction and devotion, the way they are braided, the way one tends to nourish, inspire, give 

birth to the other. After all, this journal itself, which has been very much a devotional practice for its 

editors, was birthed by awareness of extinction. Installation artist Lily Yeh, interviewed in this issue, 

puts it this way: “...the beauty that moves comes from the broken dark places.” All this is to say that 

though we’ve divided the issue into two parts, “extinction” and “devotion,” almost every piece in it could 

go in either one.

The words in the epigraph above refer to the Caspian Tiger, depicted in Naeemaei’s series Dreams of 

Extinction which appears in this issue. Her tiger is surrounded by weeping women who are giving him 

the proper ceremonial farewell he deserves. There’s an interesting parallel in Nora Jamieson’s recently 

published Deranged, reviewed in this issue, where a woman holds a funeral service for a coyote who 

was poisoned by her neighbour. She even puts an obituary notice in the paper: “Eastern Grey Coyote 

died on February 10th from an acute illness after suffering excruciating convulsions and 

suffocation....She will be dearly missed by those she leaves behind, her family pack and Anna Holmes 

of Mountain Road who is holding calling hours on February 12th from 9p.m. to midnight.”

I read somewhere that death rituals and ceremonies are what distinguish human from non-human 

animals. But to say this is to ignore the fact that there are also categories of human beings whose 

deaths go unacknowledged—by ritual, ceremony, or even markers. In “Ghost Dance: the Poetics of 

Loss,” also featured in this issue, Melissa Kwasny writes of the obscene disrespect for sites of Indian 

genocide in the U.S. “A bus driver smokes a cigarette in the parking lot at Sand Creek. The effect is 

devastating. The lack of monuments, plaques, or any sign of public recognition in some of these places 

bears witness to a total disregard for what happened, as well as to the people involved.” And in poems 

that for this reader evoke the almost 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women here in Canada, 

until very recently stubbornly ignored by our government, Debra Earling writes of the disappearing of

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