We at Talon stand with poet and activist Rita Wong, who was sentenced this past Friday to serve twenty-eight days in prison for participating in a protest last August against the Trans Mountain pipeline project. Please read Rita’s public statement on her sentencing, reproduced in full below.
Rita Wong’s Public Sentencing Statement
I’m grateful to be here alive today with all of you on sacred, unceded Coast Salish territories, the homelands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil Waututh peoples.
On 24 August 2018, while British Columbia was in a state of emergency because of wildfires caused by climate change – breaking records for the second year in a row; putting lives at risk, health at risk, and displacing thousands of people – I sang, prayed, and sat in ceremony for about half an hour in front of the Trans Mountain pipeline project’s Westridge Marine Terminal.
I did this because we’re in a climate emergency, and since the Federal government has abdicated its responsibility to protect us despite full knowledge of the emergency, it became necessary to act. We are in imminent peril if we consider the rate of change we are currently experiencing from a geological perspective – we are losing species at an alarming rate and facing mass extinction due to the climate crisis that humans have caused. This is the irreparable harm I sought to prevent, which the court, the Crown, and corporations also have a responsibility to prevent.
Everyone has the responsibility to respond to this crisis. We are on the global equivalent of the Titanic, and this industrialized ship needs to change direction. We also need to build life boats, healthy places that can support resilience in the future, such as the sacred Salish Sea.
I acted with respect for the rule of law which includes the rule of natural law and the rule of Indigenous law and the rule of international law. Under the rule of law:
By breaching the injunction, I had no intention of reducing respect for our courts. I do intend to ask the court to respect Coast Salish laws that uphold our responsibilities to care for the land and waters that make life, liberty and peace possible for everyone. I sincerely ask the court to take our reciprocal relationship with the land and water into consideration because we are on Coast Salish lands, where everyone is a Coast Salish citizen.
I’m one of over 200 citizens of conscience who were arrested because, unlike our federal and provincial governments, we take the climate crisis seriously. We take the need to protect society seriously. We did what we could to maintain respect for our justice system:
All of this is evidence of the rule of law working.
I respect the court’s concern for the rule of law. I do appreciate that obeying court orders is part of the rule of law. There are more aspects of the rule of law that I would ask you to consider before sentencing me.
Natural law and Indigenous law rely on mutual aid and cooperation, qualities that require maturity and a deep love for one’s community, recognizing that we are all equal. It is a rule of law that works primarily from a place of love and respect, not from fear of authority and punishment.
This is the aspect of rule of law that has moved the hearts and spirits of the thousands of people who’ve shown up to care for the land and waters of this place. Such an understanding of rule of law, as coming from a place of love and courage more than fear, could strengthen our sense of democracy. It could make our commitment to reconciliation a sincere one.
We can all learn from natural law and Coast Salish law that we have a reciprocal relationship with the land; and that we all have a responsibility to care for the land’s health, which is ultimately our health too. This was reinforced most recently for me by Tsleil-Waututh speakers at the Drums Not Drills gathering at the scene of my arrest, the Westridge Marine Terminal, on Aug 5 this year, which I helped to co-organize as part of the Mountain Protectors group.
My ancestors teach me to act responsibly, to honour the water, the land and my relatives. I feel their teachings in my blood & guts, my bones that carry their spirits within them, my heart as it closes & opens again & again with each beat.
The morning of my arrest we hung red dresses to honour the murdered and missing Indigenous women, the sisters who are made more vulnerable and victimized by the man camps that accompany pipeline expansion and massive resource extraction. We sang the women warriors song, over and over again, for each woman who should have been there & wasn’t.
We sang for our grandparents, for people from all four direction of the earth.
Our ceremony that morning was an act of spiritual commitment, of prayer, of artistic expression, of freedom of expression, an act of desperation in the face of climate crisis, an act of allegiance with the earth’s natural laws, and a heartfelt attempt to prevent mass extinction of the human race.
As I see it, one shows respect by speaking honestly, a view shared by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. To speak the truth is not to show contempt, but to hold those in power accountable for failing to protect us and for instead knowingly choosing to inflict systemic harm & violence upon us and upon the land and waters that give us life.
I pray that the urgency of the climate crisis and our responsibilities to be good relatives living on Coast Salish lands, under Coast Salish laws, will help to guide this justice system as it encounters land defenders. As land and water defenders, we do what we do for everyone’s sake.
Happy Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day to all of our Québécois readers, and to French-Canadians across the country. Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day celebrates diverse Québécois culture, and Talon is proud to have a long history of translating Québécois classics – as well as new and exciting titles from emerging authors – for anglophone audiences. Today, we’d like to recommend some titles to you.
Today, on Indigenous Peoples Day, we are pleased to share a poem from Wanda John-Kehewin’s Seven Sacred Truths.
tO all the children Of residential schOOls …
(Inspired by Mechelle Pierre)
i hOpe YOur life is filled with lOve
frOM here On earth and frOM abOve.
i hOpe YOu can OvercOMe YOur fears
thrOugh faMilY, friends, and ManY healing tears.
Talon is honoured to work with many Indigenous authors and to celebrate Indigenous voices. Publishing writing by, for, and about First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples is a central part of what we do every day of the year.
So: happy Indigenous Peoples Day!
We have some recent and forthcoming titles we’d like to share with you today. Kevin Loring’s Thanks for Giving, Drew Hayden Taylor’s Cottagers and Indians and Sir John A: Acts of a Gentrified Ojibway Rebellion, Sean Harris Oliver & Raes Calvert’s Redpatch, and Wanda John-Kehewin’s Seven Sacred Truths were all published in the past year.
Soon, we will be reissuing an updated edition of They Write Their Dream on the Rock Forever, by Annie York, Richard Daly & Chris Arnett; forthcoming this fall is annie ross’s Pots and Other Living Beings as well as Kim Senklip Harvey’s Kamloopa: An Indigenous Matriarch Story. In Spring 2020, we will publish Marie Clements’s Iron Peggy and Kevin Loring’s Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer.
For even more Indigenous-authored books, download our 2018 Indigenous Catalogue.
Erina Harris – You once mentioned that moving to Edmonton inspired or induced a radical reckoning asked of you as a poet and teacher. Could you elaborate?
Christine Stewart – … During the summer of 2007, a tent city had grown up in downtown Edmonton. This was shut down by the city in early September and many of the inhabitants moved across the river into the ravine. In the mornings, on my way to work, as dawn broke, I would bike by people cooking breakfast on open fires or sleeping in shelters along the creek. At that time, the majority of the people living in the ravine were Indigenous, and as I later learned, many were nêhiyaw (Cree), from the Edmonton area – home and homeless. This condition remains very true for many people in Edmonton and across Canada – to be home and yet to be homeless in that very place of home. The enduring societal and governmental violence that is necessary for such a fact to be true is staggering. In the years that have followed, it has become obvious to me that I didn’t know where I was in those days, that I never had known, and that I still don’t, but that I urgently need to know where I am and what is expected of me here. This has lead me to work and write in very different ways and with very different intentions and yet, I think what has remained with me, is that writing is real, that it matters, that language matters, how we use it and why, that there is a truth in language on the page. It might be a truth that we find hard to believe or do not want to believe but it is there. Which is not to say that writing is everything. It isn’t. There are circumstances within which I often find myself now wherein writing needs to stop. Some things should not be written; sometimes writing is not enough.
On Saturday, April 6, George Bowering, Gladys Maria Hindmarch, Daphne Marlatt, and Fred Wah read from their TISH works and Talon books at a reading associated with the Griffin Art Project’s exhibition the poets have always preceded art and poetry in Vancouver, 1960–present, which was on from January 26 to April 27, 2019. All four poets are part of our Collected Poetry series.
Fred Wah’s Scree: The Collected Earlier Poems, 1962–1991 came out with Talon in 2015. Daphne Marlatt’s Intertidal: The Collected Earlier Poems 1968–2008 came out in 2017. Gladys Maria Hindmarch and George Bowering both have Collected volumes forthcoming with Talon.
Private Jonathan Woodrow is a young Indigenous soldier fighting on the Western Front during World War I. Thanks to his experience in hunting and wilderness survival, he quickly becomes one of the 1st Canadian Division’s most feared trench raiders. But as the war and the fighting stretch on with no end in sight, Woodrow begins to realize that he will never go home again. Shedding overdue light on the Indigenous contribution to Canada’s Great War effort, Redpatch was a finalist for the Playwright Guild of Canada’s 2017 Carol Bolt award.
The Living has arrived in-house from the printer.
The Living is a powerful and unsettling documentary play by Colleen Wagner, author of the Governor General’s Literary Award–winning play The Monument. It is inspired by the actual stories of women and girls who survived trauma in post-conflict zones like Rwanda and Uganda. The Living examines the lives of victims and perpetrators, post-genocide, who live side-by-side in government-issued housing, as well as the role of NGO-funded campaigns. By means of theatrical fiction, documentary work, and re-enactment, The Living provides a creative path toward reconciliation, in hopes that the impossible act of forgiveness can end the cycle of revenge. The book features a foreword by Ines Buchli and an afterword by Juliane Okot Bitek.
We are so pleased to announce that Rita Wong and Fred Wah’s beholden: a poem as long as the river has been shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. beholden joins several wonderful books on this year’s list of BC Book Prize finalists, including Our Familiar Hunger by Laisha Rosnau, Port of Being by Shazia Hafiz Ramji, Quarrels by Eve Joseph, and _The Small Way_by Onjana Yawnghwe in the poetry category.
beholden: a poem as long as the river stems from the interdisciplinary artistic research project “River Relations: A Beholder’s Share of the Columbia River,” undertaken as a response to the damming and development of the Columbia River in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon, as well as to the upcoming renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty. Authors Fred Wah and Rita Wong spent time exploring various stretches of the river, all the way to its mouth near Astoria, Oregon. They then spent several months creating long poems along the Columbia, each searching for a language that evoked the complexities of our colonial appropriation of it. beholden was then assembled as a page-turning book that reproduces the two long poems as they respond to the meanderings of the river flowing two thousand kilometres through Canada, the United States, and the territories and reserves of Indigenous Peoples. Visual artist Nick Conbere then transferred this winding footprint into a monumental, 114-foot horizontal banner.
Visit the BC Book Prize website for more information about the finalists.
Join us on Wednesday, April 3, at 7:30 p.m. at Pyatt Hall in Vancouver, where Talon authors bill bissett (breth), Dina Del Bucchia (It’s a Big Deal!), M.A.C. Farrant (The Great Happiness), Nicole Raziya Fong (PEЯFACT), and Nikki Reimer (My Heart Is a Rose Manhattan) will read from their hot-off-the-presses books. Admission is free (bring money for books!), and the venue is fully accessible. Mercedes Eng, author of the BC Book Prize–winning Prison Industrial Complex Explodes, will be hosting.
Wednesday, April 3
Doors at 7:30 p.m., readings at 8 p.m.
843 Seymour Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 3L4
My Heart Is a Rose Manhattan is a darkly humorous book about grief and isolation, social media, death and loss, horse statues, and “overdrawn affluenza.” Today, we are pleased to share a poem from the book’s first section, “A Rose Is a Rose Is a Rose Manhattan” – a poem that showcases both Nikki Reimer’s sharp eye and cutting sense of humour.
what this town needs is horse statues. more horse statues. another horse statue. a
bigger horse statue. we gotta get more monster homes. move out the renters. this
baby’s priced. this baby’s priced to move.
what this town needs:
horsewomen stay-at-homes. more horsewomen stay-at-homes.
another horsewoman stay-at-home. a
bigger horsewoman stay-at-home. we
gotta get more monument homesteads.
move out the renters. this backbencher’s priced. this
backbencher’s priced to move.
A delightful collection of seventy miniature fictions and comics riffing on the theme of happiness, The Great Happiness offers a series of lively antidotes to the current climate of doom. Some of the book’s miniatures are narratives with a twist, others are imaginative flights, such as the recently dead experimental novelist “sitting in” on the obituary-writing session convened by her husband, or the woman who rescues an Atlantic lobster from her local Save-On-Foods and ships it to Prince Edward Island to be released back into the ocean. The miniatures of The Great Happiness are “fictions that think,” each one a combination of narrative, prose poem, and jest.
The Great Happiness is the third part in M.A.C. Farrant’s trilogy of miniature fiction published by Talonbooks, preceded by The World Afloat, winner of the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize, and The Days, nominated for the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize and the ReLit Award.
My Heart Is a Rose Manhattan is a darkly humorous book about grief and isolation. Cutting yet tender, sorrowful yet angry, these poems touch on death and loss, architecture, alcohol, horse statues, and catalogues of life. Addicted to social media and simultaneously well-versed in feminist theory, My Heart Is a Rose Manhattan “subvert[s] the literary industrial complex,” but it also crashes in like the Kool-Aid meme with all-caps non sequiturs and “overdrawn affluenza.” Pull up a chair, get a drink – a rose manhattan, a quartz gimlet, or a gourmet ginger ale, if you prefer. A rose is a rose is a Rose Manhattan.
So many things seem like a BIG DEAL: fashionable clothes, food trends for healthfulness and coolness, personal turmoils, what someone else just said, the ever-charged political landscape, Instagram posts, extinct megafauna, avocado toast … the list could – and does – go on and on. Quirky, wry, sensitive, bitchy, and honest, It’s a Big Deal! interrogates the ways we interpret and process the big deals of our twenty-first-century lives. Del Bucchia’s poetic voice is unique, delivering sharp humour and candid sincerity.
Newly arrived in-house is poet Nicole Raziya Fong’s debut collection, PEЯFACT.
“Part treatise on phenomenology, part theatrical score on ontology, part billet-doux to poetry itself” (Divya Victor), PEЯFACT is a three-part series of poems interrogating the nature of experience, language, trauma, and identity. This moving, philosophical debut, whose influences range from Antonin Artaud and Simone Weil to Gertrude Stein and George Oppen, meditates on materiality and consciousness, empathy and awareness, absence and mutuality – the physical presence of language.
Pick up your copy of PEЯFACT today!
Two years ago, Christian Guay Poliquin’s Le poids de la neige won the Governor General’s Literary Award for French-language fiction; now, Talon is extremely pleased to be welcoming David Homel’s excellent English translation of the novel, The Weight of Snow.
After surviving a major accident – during a nationwide power failure, in a village buried in snow – the protagonist of The Weight of Snow is entrusted to Matthias, a taciturn old man who agrees to heal his wounds in exchange for supplies and a chance of escape. The two men become prisoners of the elements and of their own rough confrontation as the centimetres of snow accumulate relentlessly. Surrounded by a nature both hostile and sublime, their relationship oscillates between commiseration, mistrust, and mutual aid. Will they manage to hold out against external threats and intimate pitfalls?
Hot off the presses is Carmen Aguirre’s Chile Con Carne and Other Early Works, which includes three plays from early in her career, as well as a preface to the plays written by the author.
With perceptive, unflinching wit, these three plays document the hardships, horrors, and heartache of exile, revealing the far-reaching effects of dictatorial violence and terror. Highlighting the fresh perspective refugees bring to North American society, Chile Con Carne and Other Early Works also provides essential context for Aguirre’s more recent plays, Refugee Hotel, Blue Box, and The Trigger. Aguirre’s funny, poignant, and biting explorations of refuge and recovery are as pertinent now as when they were first written.
Pick up your copy of Chile Con Carne and Other Early Works today!
Synapses, by Simon Brousseau and translated by Pablo Strauss, has arrived at Talon! Synapses depicts a vast society of differing psyches, all unique, idiosyncratic, and interconnected. Simon Brousseau’s beautifully crafted literary snapshots, each written in a single, stylistically accomplished sentence and featuring a different character, will linger with readers.
Synapses will integrate into your own neural pathways, inviting you to join the network of humanity the book creates.
Drew Hayden Taylor’s Cottagers and Indians is the first of our Spring 2019 books to arrive in-office!
In Cottagers and Indians, an Anishnawbe man, Arthur Copper, decides to repopulate the lakes of his home Territory with manoomin, or wild rice – much to the disapproval of the local non-Indigenous cottagers, in particular the formidable Maureen Poole. Based on real-life events in Ontario’s Kawartha Lakes region, Cottagers and Indians infuses contemporary conflicts between Indigenous and non-Indigenous sensibilities with Drew Hayden Taylor’s characteristic warmth and humour.
“When I was growing up, the English language had an awesome power over my parents’ lives and my own life, and the internment process … was made possible through the power of discourse, and the power to name people out of existence.”
‘Tis the season! We have a tradition here at Talon to release a seasonally appropriate M.A.C. Farrant short story every year around this time. This story, “Happy New Year,” will appear in M.A.C.‘s forthcoming book, The Great Happiness, which will be available in Spring 2019.
Roy Miki’s Flow: Poems Collected and New, edited by Michael Barnholden, is now flowing toward a bookstore near you. We were very excited to launch the book, the newest addition to our Collected Poetry Series, earlier this month; the launch brought together many of Vancouver’s poets and poetry lovers, and featured readings by Michael Barnholden, Jacqueline Turner, Fred Wah, Hiromi Goto, Daphne Marlatt, George Bowering, Tiziana La Melia, Mark Nakada, Larissa Lai, Scott McFarlane, and Louis Cabri.
Flow collects all of Governor General’s Award winner Roy Miki’s books of poetry – saving face, random access file, Surrender, There, and Mannequin Rising – with a substantial new, previously unpublished work, Cloudy and Clear, and numerous full-colour photographs and photocollages. This definitive edition of Miki’s poetic work includes a foreword by poet and critic Louis Cabri, an interview by the collection’s editor, Michael Barnholden, and an extensive bibliography.
We are wishing a warm welcome to Rebecca Wigod’s He Speaks Volumes: A Biography of George Bowering.
George Bowering has read, written about, and corresponded with them all, from influential mid-century writers such as Sheila Watson, Earle Birney, and Al Purdy, through a veritable Who’s Who of the Canadian literary avant-garde, including bpNichol, Daphne Marlatt, and Fred Wah, to literary superstars such as Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Atwood. This biography of the two-time Governor General’s Award winner and inaugural Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada illuminates the intimate, intellectual, and artistic life of one of Canada’s greatest literary ambassadors. Based on exhaustive research, including access to decades of Bowering’s diaries, He Speaks Volumes is an indispensable guide to the life, work, and community of this multi-faceted writer.
Author Rebecca Wigod’s career in journalism spanned three decades. She wrote arts features, did medical reporting, and even composed editorials, but her favourite gig was being the editor of the Vancouver Sun’s books pages from 2000 to 2010.
Note: The credit line on page xv should read: “Margaret Atwood’s foreword was originally commissioned by The Capilano Review for the “Bowering’s Books” issue, TCR 3.24. Reproduced with permission from Curtis Brown Group, Ltd, London, on behalf of Margaret Atwood. Copyright ©️ O.W. Toad 2014. Thanks to The Capilano Review for their kind assistance.”
Talonbooks’ Fall Poetry Launch was held at Pyatt Hall in Vancouver, on unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ Lands, this past Thursday. Our gratitude goes out to Irvin Waskewitch, who opened the evening with a Cree prayer, and to the over 130 launch attendees, for whom the cold fall rain was no match!
Talonbooks’ Fall Poetry Launch will feature readings by Fred Wah and Rita Wong (from beholden), Wanda John-Kehewin (from Seven Sacred Truths), Ted Byrne (from Duets), Tiziana La Melia (from The Eyelash and the Monochrome), and Christine Stewart (from Treaty 6 Deixis).
Tuesday, November 13
Doors at 7:30 p.m., readings at 8 p.m.
843 Seymour Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 3L4