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this is a mixture of my lazy academic reviews and personal moments as a mama going through academia, and it is all my own opinion, and has absolutely no affiliation with anybody else

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Native Poetry in Canada: A Contemporary Anthology

from the publisherNative Poetry in Canada: A Contemporary Anthology is the only collection of its kind. It brings together the poetry of many authors whose work has not previously been published in book form alongside that of critically-acclaimed poets, thus offering a record of Native cultural revival as it emerged through poetry from the 1960s to the present. The poets included here adapt English oratory and, above all, a sense of play. Native Poetry in Canada suggests both a history of struggle to be heard and the wealth of Native cultures in Canada today.


Overall, the collection spans from Chief Dan George and so to Randy Lundy and is spread pretty evenly between men and women identifying authors, which is a deliberate choice, I believe.

I read Annharte’s collection, again re-reading “I Want to Dance Wild Indian Black Face” (79) and picking out lines that still resonate. “I don’t want to be authentic all the time,” she says, pushing forth the knowledge that these people who dress up as Indians are just playing Indians, and that it’s a privilege, as we would say now. They get to take off their masks and warpaint – we don’t. This is further re-iterized with “I want an Indian day off,” because for real, who doesn’t? It’s exhausting always being pushed against for simply serving.

I also peaked at Randy Lundy’s collection within this collective (349). I met Randy back in the day, where I was first discovering Indigenous literature and what it meant to me – good ol 2002 or so – and he was a sweetie, and I enjoyed his collection o poems. It was good to read them again and to be able to pick out styles and determine pattern, and language use, and see what, if any, “native indicators’ were within, aside from subject matter. Contrasting Annharte’s ‘Red’ English to the very structurally sound poetic forms of Lundy, it was pretty cool to see how our stories take form and different shapes, and it all works.


  • “Even then, I realized that this was not a speech simply intended to be understood, but foremost to be heard” (Armstrong, xv)
  • “To me, Red on White broke invisible barriers simply by appearing as a book, let alone leaping to the literary avant garde of the day, while preserving the underlying “Native” themes of the time” (Armstrong, xvii)
  • “Louise Halfe writes as a Cree without explaining herself as such. So do Emma Larocque, Beth Cuthand, Marilyn Dumont, Gregory Scofield, and Randy Lundy” (Grauer, xxiii)

buy the book: Native Poetry in Canada 

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