Edited by award-winning and bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith, this collection of intersecting stories by both new and veteran Native writers bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride. Native families from Nations across the continent gather at the Dance for Mother Earth Powwow in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In a high school gym full of color and song, people dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage.
The East Side of It All by Joseph Dandurand, a member of Kwantlen First Nation, is a first-hand experience of life in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and the ongoing process of healing through reconnection with family, the natural world and traditional Indigenous, Kwantlen, storytelling. Dandurand's voice is lyrical yet intimate, obscured yet sitting with you at the kitchen table. The East Side of It All is the journey of a broken man who finally accepts his storytelling gift and shares with the world his misery, joy and laughter.
Sh:lam (The Doctor) is a collection of poetry by Joseph A. Dandurand, a member of Kwantlen First Nation located on the Fraser River, east of Vancouver. The author writes, "This is the truth of what has happened to my people. The Kwantlen people used to number in the thousands but like all river tribes, eighty percent of our people were wiped out by smallpox and now there are only 200 of us.
On/Me is a book of poems by Francine Cunningham, a Cree, Metis writer, artist, and educator, who explores what it means to live with constant reminders that she doesn’t fit the desired expectations of the world: she is a white-passing, city-raised Indigenous woman with mental illness who has lost her mother. In her debut poetry collection On/Me, Cunningham explores, with keen attention and poise, what it means to be forced to exist within the margins.
Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh Niibing, dgwaagig, bboong, mnookmig dbaadjigaade maanpii mzin’igning / This Is How I Know: A Book about the Seasons is written by Brittany Luby, of Anishinaabe descent and raised on Treaty 3 Territory; and Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley, Ojibwe Woodland artist and member of Wasauksing First Nation. In This Is How I Know, an Anishinaabe child and her grandmother take pleasure in the familiar sights that each new season brings. This lyrical, bilingual story-poem is written in Anishinaabemowin and English.
Bones by Tyler Pennock, Cree/Metis adoptee from the Slave Lake area of Alberta, is a collection of poems about a young two-spirit Indigenous man moving through shadow and trauma toward strength and awareness. This debut is about the ways we process the traumas of our past, and about how often these experiences eliminate moments of softness and gentleness. Here, the poems journey inward, guided by the world of dreams, seeking memories of a loving sister lost beneath layers of tragedy and abuse.
Inquiries by Michelle Porter, Red River Métis, is a collection of poems that risk the co-mingling of anger and elegy, poetry and documentation, humour and the dark spectre of poverty, Michelle Porter’s Inquiries oscillates at its edges, and amplifies the presence of human strength as it keeps company with our enigmatic and ever-present nemeses. This is a startling debut where the line between reality and reality television blurs, where a simple trip to the grocery store unifies mother and daughter in struggle, and where an economics of iniquity proves the existence of love as equality.
Spawn, by Marie-Andrée Gill, Pekuakamishkueu, and an Ilnu and Québécoise poet, is a braided collection of brief, untitled poems, a coming-of-age lyric set in the Mashteuiatsh Reserve on the shores of Lake Piekuakami (Saint-Jean) in Quebec. Undeniably political, Marie-Andrée Gill's poems ask: How can one reclaim a narrative that has been confiscated and distorted by colonizers?