Abeng for Multispecies' Flourishing


  • Steven Khan Brock University
  • G. Michael Bowen Mount St. Vincent University
  • Douglas Karrow Brock University




poetic inquiry, mythopoetic curriculum, multispecies studies, abeng


We revisit our collaborative poetic inquiry (Khan et al., 2021) that explored the place of poetry in informing the epistemic foundations of mathematics, science, and technology education and bring to complicated curricular conversations our recent experiences and emerging connections. We see our work as attempting to signal beyond human concerns to a recognition that without multispecies’ flourishing the probability of widespread human flourishing is limited.

In the present moment we consciously and humbly draw upon an analogy with the abeng, a Ghanian word for an animal’s ‘horn.’ The blowing of the horn in the West Indies called slaves to the canefields and allowed Maroon armies to communicate among themselves (Cliff, 1984/1995). We take a prompt, “the breath in our bones” literally, that is, how the literal atmosphere through its poetic meanderings comes into the myriad and endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful of some of our multispecies kin. We wonder, what are changes in the composition of that atmosphere—the breath in our bones— due to rising anthropogenic carbon dioxide and human activity doing to the bodies/‘bones’ of our multispecies kin? Our work is a form of symbiopoetics, riffing off of Helmreich’s (2009) symbiopolitics and a poetic call to gather our marooned communities together.