Tùkhòne: Where the River Narrows and Shores Bend by D.A. Lockhart

I became an instant fan of D.A. Lockhart’s poetry after reading 2019’s Devil in the Woods, a collection of “letters” addressed to famous Canadians such as Don Cherry, Lord Beaverbrook and Bruno Gerussi, to name a few. It was shortlisted for Best Poetry in 2020. Now with Tùkhòne, he combines haiku and haibun to create some of the most evocative prose and poetry I have read in some time.…

Five Little Indians by Michelle Good

I couldn’t put Michelle Good’s Five Little Indians down. She offers beautifully, well-rounded, fully-human characters in a story about the resilience and fragility of the human spirit. The book follows five small children who are taken from the homes and have to face the abuse and isolation of a church-run residential on the Central Coast of B.C.

Longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2020, this book will stay with me for the rest of my life.…

Land-Water-Sky / Ndè-Tı-Yat’a By Katłıà

Land-Water-Sky/Ndè-Tı-Yat’a is the debut novel from Dene author Katłįà. Set in Canada’s far northwest, this layered composite novel traverses space and time, from a community being stalked by a dark presence, a group of teenagers out for a dangerous joyride, to an archeological site on a mysterious island that holds a powerful secret.

In a recent edition of Atlantic Books Today, Chris Benjamin stated regarding IndigiLit: “Stories written by people from cultures that have been tied to this land far, far longer than my own show me things settler writers cannot.”…

The North-West is Our Mother: The Story of Louis Riel’s People, the Métis Nation by Jean Teillet

Some books are there to offer the kinds of stories that can light on our paths and help us figure out a way forward. The North-West is Our Mother: The Story of Louis Riel’s People, the Métis Nation by historian Jean Teillet has been that kind of book to me.

I’ve been writing about the life of my great-grandfather Léon Robert Goulet, a Métis fiddler who was born in Lorette, Manitoba, in the middle of Métis homeland that Teillet documents.…

Cottagers and Indians, by Drew Hayden Taylor

Taylor’s two-person play Cottagers and Indians was inspired by a years-long dispute between cottage owners on Pigeon Lake in Ontario and an Anishnawbe man seeding manoomin (wild rice) in their waterways.

In the play, Maureen Poole, a white woman at her lakeside split-level ranch house, and Arthur Copper, an Indigenous man in his canoe, face off over his seeding and harvesting of the once-flourishing Indigenous food, manoomin.…

From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle

These days I’ve been thinking about the importance of being able to recognize your self and your people in the literature you are reading and that’s one of the most important offerings from Jesse Thistle’s memoir From the Ashes. Of course, his story should be read by all non-Indigenous people who want to understand the impacts of intergenerational colonial trauma among Indigenous people living in Canada today.…

Messenger 93 by Barbara Radecki

Barbara Radecki’s sophomore novel, Messenger 93, opens with a flutter of information. A mind-bending conversation with a crow kicks off the absorbing thriller, and cryptic messages, hidden clues, and uncertain instructions become the norm in M, the narrator’s, life. M feels compelled to investigate the disappearance of a girl named Krista, and her movements over the seven days that structure each chapter offer insight into her life and closest relationships.…

Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson By Mark Bourrie

Bourrie has written a classic Canadian historical biography. The best-selling author, and award-winning journalist, lays bare the mottled myths of colonial settlement. He weaves a compelling, sometimes lurid, but always enlightening narrative of the legendary adventurer, scoundrel, Pierre-Esprit Radisson. Bush Runner chronicles Radisson’s adventures from exploiting the expanding fur trade to finagling European imperial military ambitions to his own advantage in the 17th century Americas.…

Five Wives by Joan Thomas

Thomas’s GG-award winning fourth novel, Five Wives, based on actual events, is mainly set in the 1950s in Ecuador. In 1956, a group of American missionaries set their sights on a group of indigenous people living in the Ecuadorian rainforest with the intention of converting them to Christianity. To this point, the Waorani’s exposure to the outside world was virtually nil.…

River Revery: Poems by Penn Kemp

London Ontario’s my home. In part. Lived there two years. Important years. Growth years. It’s why I feel a kinship, connection with the community and the meandering multi-named river that sews it together. I feel the same for the Laureate Emerita that truly calls this place her home, living in the house she grew up in, a songbird’s flight from the water, the faintest tidal tug hinting at Great Lakes and storm-capped Atlantic.…

Bill Arnott’s Beat: Independents’ Day

bookstores shouldn’t exist. Brick-and-mortar bibliophile havens are retail models waiting to be business school case studies, “Why These Can’t Work.” TV narcissi could bleat indefinitely as to why they’d never invest in such ventures. But they do exist. And despite every reason why they shouldn’t, they thrive.

I was in one of these doomed locales, its interior walls a swathe of indigenous authors, poetry, and every stripe of an LGBTQ2S writers’ rainbow – a showcase of all that’s good in the world of books.…

Crow Gulch: poetry by Douglas Walbourne-Gough

(The following is a guest review by Newfoundland author Tom Halford. Tom is the author of Deli Meat, a 2019 shortlisted novel for Best First Book)

of the most captivating elements of Douglas Walbourne-Gough’s Crow Gulch is the powerful humanism running through the collection. The prose poem “Fuck this town” is a strong example of how Walbourne-Gough challenges readers to pause and consider people’s lives:

I swear, too, the next bastard that calls me jackatar’s gonna get a good shit-knockin’.…

Devil in the Woods: Poems by D. A. Lockhart

at Urban Farmhouse Press and poet D. A. Lockhart is A Turtle Clan member of the Moravian of the Thames First Nation, and Devil in the Woods (2019, Brick Books) is his latest collection of poetry. Brick Books has done an admirable job of designing and packaging this volume; my review copy came with a matching bookmark and a promotional postcard with the book cover on one side and the Roll Up the Rim Prayer on the opposite side.…

Inquiries: Poems by Michelle Porter

Michelle Porter is a Red River Métis poet, journalist, and editor. She holds degrees in journalism, folklore, and geography (Ph.D.). She currently lives in St. John’s Newfoundland. Inquiries is the debut collection of her poems.

I’m assuming that the book’s title is tied to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The poems within Inquiries are all tied together taking a hard look at the hardscrabble life of a Métis woman and her children eking out an existence near the Red River (and sometimes in NL), moving when the rent cannot be paid, leaving memories and items behind (a dollhouse that wouldn’t fit in the station wagon, gym sneakers left in a school locker).…

Blue Bear Woman by Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau

Originally published in French as Ourse Bleu in 2007, Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau’s book has the distinction of being the first novel published in Quebec by an Indigenous woman. Now, English readers have Blue Bear Woman, a translation by Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli and published by Inanna Publications.* Blue Bear Woman is a powerful little novel of a mixed blood Cree/Métis woman (Victoria is her given name) searching for the memories of her past growing up in the James Bay area of Quebec.…