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Tuesday December 11, 2012 in Books
In her first idiom-shattering book of poetry, Wanda John-Kehewin endeavours to “speak her truth,” combining elements of First Nations oral tradition with a style of dramatic narrative that originates from the earliest traditions of cultural storytelling and also keeps pace with the rhythmical undulations of Canadian poets such as James Reaney and E.J. Pratt.
However, in a contemporary setting, the magniloquent narrative of nation-building has given way to fragmentary and reflexive self- examination that is inextricably bound to a history of colonization, the residual effects of which are buried deep within silent sufferers. Divided into four aspects of the Medicine Wheel – one of many stone structures scattered across the Alberta Plains – this collection calls for us to acknowledge the blatant neglect of quality of life on Native reserves and to explore ameliorative processes of restorative justice.
In emotive and yet wryly unsentimental tones, John-Kehewin lends her voice to many forms of suffering that surround enforced loss of culture, addressing topics such as alcohol addiction, familial abandonment, religious authority, sexual abuse, and the pain of mourning for loved ones. John-Kehewin does not spare herself when relating her own stories, even as she tells the stories of others that are so like her own, admonishing humanity for its lack of conscience in poems that journey from the turmoil of the Gaza Strip to rapidly dissolving ice floes …
Wanda John-Kehewin is, as she describes herself, “a First Nations woman searching for the truth and a way to be set free from the past” – shoving aside that lingering sense of shame and stigma – taking the reader on a healing journey that reveals language to be an elusive creature indeed and one that gives new definition to what being “in the dog house” could be, if we as human beings listen carefully and learn to remedy our misunderstandings.
ISBN 13: 9780889227491 | ISBN 10: 889227497
6.75 W x 9.25 H inches | 80 pages
16.95 CAN / 16.95 US
Backlist | Poetry | Bisac: POE000000
QUOTES OF NOTE
“Her work is brave, brilliant, and relentless. Her voice deserves to be heard.”
– Garry Gottfriedson
“Playful, painful, indignant, compassionate, a new voice emerges into the realms of Canadian poetry. Wanda John-Kehewin is a smart, sharp observer, and an articulate craftswoman. Her poetry shines.”
– Joanne Arnott
“Between the body & the utterance is the meaning. Read these poems aloud – as if your life depended upon it – for it does. Wanda John-Kehewin unstops our ears with her unflinching evocation of the “colonial pesticide” now threatening all forms of life.” – Betsy Warland, Breathing the Page – Reading the Act of Writing
"I loved this look into the upside-down world of Indigenous experience where families are recovering from being torn apart. Instead of being a place of shame and exclusion the dog house became a safe haven to comfort an abused child. The poems are full of love, triumph, sympathy and encouragement for others. One Thousand Cranes, a poem for the victims of the Japanese Tsunami, shows the universal appeal of this poetry.
There are lessons for us all in these beautifully crafted words."– Grace Woo, Goodreads.com
About the ContributorsWanda John-Kehewin
Cree poet Wanda John-Kehewin studied criminology, sociology, Aboriginal studies, and creative writing while attending the Writer’s Studio writing program at Simon Fraser University. She uses writing as a therapeutic medium through which to understand and to respond to the near decimation of First Nations culture, language, and tradition.
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.