Aimal over at Bookshelves and Paperbacks started Diversity Spotlight Thursday a while back and I’m only just now getting around to participating. The point of the series is to draw attention to great diverse books that may not be getting that much love or attention by talking about a diverse book you’ve read, one you’re planning to and a not-yet-released book you’re excited for.
This is an Indigenous writers edition of Diversity Spotlight Thursday focusing on poetry as part of Indigenous Book Club Month and National Aboriginal History Month. I’m a big lover of poetry and tend to turn to old and new poetry collections to fill up the long days of summer. There’s an incredible number of fantastic Indigenous poets publishing in Canada and else where, that I wish the online book community talked about a bit more.
A diverse book you have read and enjoyed
Skin Like Mine by Garry Gottfriedson
I came across this collection years ago while on vacation and was immediately drawn to the cover. I’ve read it several times since and it’s an incredibly powerful collection that moves me each time I read it. Gottfriedson’s poetry balances the thin line between lyrical and blunt, examining issues of racism, historical whitewashing, and the struggle of finding identity. His poetry also talks about the land, his concerns about clearcutting and the damage of the pine beetle. The majority of the poems are centred in Secwepemc territory where he grew up in Kamloops, BC and paint the land to life.
A diverse book that has already been released but you have not read
Passage by Gwen Benaway
I’ve heard such good things about Passage, Gwen Benaway’s second collection, but haven’t been able to get a copy yet. Passage is one of the first published books by an Indigenous trans woman. The book is organized according to the Great Lakes and is the story of the return to the water, the land and feminine forces. It’s a collection that is centred in Benaway’s relationship with her ancestors and herself.
A diverse book that has not yet been released
The Wound is a World, by Billy-Ray Belcourt
Billy-Ray Belcourt is an poet to watch for. I was first introduced to his work at CBC in the article “Six Indigenous writers to watch“. Belcourt is the 2017 winner of the P.K. Page Founders’ Award for Poetry and I’m eagerly awaiting his first collection, The Wound is a World, which will be published this fall. You can read some of his poetry on his website and an interview about his work at the Malahat Review.