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Jónína Kirton (see pronunciation aid) is a prairie-born Métis/Icelandic poet, author, and facilitator. She currently lives in Vancouver, on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples. Kirton graduated from Simon Fraser University’s Writer’s Studio in 2007 and is a member of its advisory board. A person of between, Kirton also serves on the Room Magazine editorial board and is an active member of its Equity and Inclusion Committee.
In 2016, Kirton received the Emerging Artist Award from the City of Vancouver, part of the Mayor’s Arts Award for Literary Arts. Nominated by her mentor Betsy Warland, Kirton is excited to be Warland’s apprentice at the 2017 SFU Writer’s Studio. Kirton also won first prize and two honourable mentions in the Royal City Literary Arts Society’s Write-on Contest in 2013 and an honourable mention in 2014 in the Burnaby Writers contest.
Kirton’s work has been featured in a number of anthologies and literary journals, including Contemporary Verse 2 (CV2), First Nations Drum, the Humber Literary Review, Ricepaper magazine (Asian/Aboriginal Issue), Other Tongues: Mixed Race Women Speak Out, Pagan Edge, Quills Canadian Poetry magazine, Toronto Quarterly and V6A: Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Her first collection of poetry, page as bone – ink as blood was released to wide acclaim by Talonbooks in 2015. Her second collection of poetry, An Honest Woman, was published in 2017.
March 2018 : Kirton and Eng short-listed for BC Book Prizes!
August 2017 : Talon poets in Contemporary Verse 2: Convergence
September 2016 : This Sunday: WORD Vancouver!
August 2015 : Tonight! Jónína Kirton at McNally Robinson in Winnipeg
Winner of the 2016 Emerging Artist Award, Mayor’s Arts Award for Literary Arts (Vancouver, BC)
BOOK AWARDSAn Honest Woman
Finalist for the 2018 BC Book Prize: Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize”
QUOTES OF NOTEAn Honest Woman
“I’m sure people have been looking at me strangely every time I gasp, but I can’t glance away from the page for even a second to notice. Some of the poems end sharply, with a punch; some deliberately leave me searching for the next line; others show the repetition of heartbreaking cycles of violence and oppression, but offer a portrayal of resilience, too.”
—All Lit Up!
“When writing from the voice of between, writer and reader have no place to hide. Assumptions and camouflage fall away. Murdered, missing, and violated women and girl voices have been silenced. The story lethally repeats. Kirton picks over how she was raised familially and culturally like a crime scene. Too, she affirms, ‘I have been here forever and I will rise again and again.’ Tough, eloquent, revelatory, these poems are the very ones we are desperately in need of.”
—Betsy Warland, author of Oscar of Between: A Memoir of Identity and Ideas
“Jónína Kirton is courageously honest about her life experiences as a female of Indigenous and immigrant ancestry. Many poems resonate deeply, as we identify with her personal quest to figure out who she is, and the unacceptable things done to her. Her raw honesty is unsettling and uncomfortable, because it can be our truth too. Her poems depict devaluation and dehumanization, grieving, lessons learned. Her poems offer important insights as to why there are thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women.”
—Senator Lillian E. Dyck
QUOTES OF NOTEpage as bone – ink as blood
“A thematically capacious and spectrally elegant constellation of poems … Kirton’s poetics undo the sovereignty of subjectivity by foregrounding the entanglements of collective history and the body, which compellingly destabilizes the primacy of ipseity that often tyrannizes lyric poetry. Each of these poems … becomes a monument to the political vitality of voicing living histories of pain engendered by settler colonialism in Canada … a collection that sustains and rewards careful attention …”
“a Bildungsroman in verse … subtle, perceptive and politically engaged.”
“These are poems out of a woman’s experience and the matriarchy. Some of the most moving and affecting poems within the collection are love letters to the writer’s/speaker’s mother, who has died from breast cancer. … Kirton avoids outright confessional by raising the question of what voice is and can be, and does this as a poet. … introducing the awareness of human fallibility and how “story” is fraught, gives the writing authenticity and the writer welcome authority. Moments like this in writing are hard won and as such are to be treasured and sustained.”
– The Maynard
“page as bone – ink as blood is restorative, intimate poetry, drawing down ancestral ideas into the current moment’s breath. Writing from a place of ‘curious contradiction,’ ‘of skin a little wild,’ Kirton begins by re-spinning the threads of indigenous immigrant, and poem by poem shoves the shuttle forward and back, remaking human integrity from ghosts and bloody matter. In these words, skin is not a barrier but a doorway through which the worlds stride. Kirton’s poems are peacemaking, both generous gesture and much-needed literary poultice.”
– Joanne Arnott
“Jónína Kirton’s memoir in verse could be an epic novel, a haunting ballad, a film noir. What it is: a visitation by ghosts and spirits, familial secrets, and retrieved historical mis-memories. As intermediaries between European and Indian cultures, she retraces her Métis inheritance and her own arduous journey to becoming a twenty-first-century guide we are much in need of.”
– Betsy Warland
“Jónína Kirton sifts through her life – our lives – picking up piercing images and sorting stories of the senses, exploring the push-pull of being human, the delight and ambivalence of being in our own skin. Slowly, by being faithful to the moments, her poems find fragments of freedom by telling the truth.”
– Oriah Mountain Dreamer
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.