Find us on Google+

Indigenous Poetics in Canada

Neal McLeod, editor

Indigenous Studies Series

Paper 416 pp.

ISBN13: 978-1-55458-982-1

Release Date: May 2014

Online discount: 25%

$36.99  $27.74


eBook availability

Winner of the 2014 ACQL Gabrielle Roy Prize for Literary Criticism

Indigenous Poetics in Canada broadens the way in which Indigenous poetry is examined, studied, and discussed in Canada. Breaking from the parameters of traditional English literature studies, this volume embraces a wider sense of poetics, including Indigenous oralities, languages, and understandings of place.

Featuring work by academics and poets, the book examines four elements of Indigenous poetics. First, it explores the poetics of memory: collective memory, the persistence of Indigenous poetic consciousness, and the relationships that enable the Indigenous storytelling process. The book then explores the poetics of performance: Indigenous poetics exist both in written form and in relation to an audience. Third, in an examination of the poetics of place and space, the book considers contemporary Indigenous poetry and classical Indigenous narratives. Finally, in a section on the poetics of medicine, contributors articulate the healing and restorative power of Indigenous poetry and narratives.

Neal McLeod grew up Cree on the James Smith Reserve in Saskatchewan and studied at the Swedish Art Academy at Umeå. His 2005 exhibition au fil de mes jours (in my lifetime), at Le Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, was remounted at the Museum of Civilization in 2007. He has two books of poetry—Songs to Kill a Wîhtikow (2005) and Gabriel’s Beach (2008). Cree Narrative Memory (2007) was nominated for book of the year at the Anskohk McNally Aboriginal Literature Awards. He teaches Indigenous studies at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario.


Indigenous Poetics in Canada is that rare book of scholarship that speaks to the heart and spirit as well as the mind. The selections in this collection offer powerful individual and collective insight into the ways that diverse traditions of Indigenous poetics animate our imaginative possibilities and extend our cultural understandings across time, space, and difference. To study Indigenous poetics is to be forcefully reminded of both our historical traditions and their continuing significance, and the poets, writers, scholars, and story-makers featured in this volume are among the most eloquent and insightful voices on the topic today. This is a transformative intervention in Indigenous literary studies as well as the broader canon of Canadian literature, reminding us that questions of aesthetics are always in dynamic relationship with the lived experience of our politicized imaginations in the world.”

— Daniel Heath Justice (Cherokee Nation), Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Literature and Expressive Culture, University of British Columbia

“In a fine introduction, McLeod does an admirable job of framing the essays and interviews to come while giving readers less familiar with indigenous poetics insight into some of the tropes and rhetorical strategies practitioners use, including kiskino (‘things...pointed to, but never completely articulated’), kakêskihkêmowina (‘counselling narratives’), and aniskwâcimopicikêwin (‘the process of connecting stories together’). That this collection exists is at once a challenge to the white publishing world that has long refused to recognize indigenous poetic practices as ‘poetry’ and a testament to the health and vibrancy of the living word of indigenous consciousness.... Summing up: Highly recommended.

— B. Carson, Bridgewater State University, Choice

“Conversations about Indigenous literatures will be forever enriched by this stunning new collection. Here, the leading voices in Indigenous literary studies draw upon deep currents of inspiration—both ancient and contemporary—as they reflect upon and powerfully perform the act of re-making the world through language. Joyful, humbling, and wonderfully diverse, Indigenous Poetics in Canada welcomes readers and writers into a re-indigenized rhetorical landscape-and I cannot wait to see what takes place there.”

— Keavy Martin, Department of English and Film, University of Alberta; author of Stories in a New Skin: Approaches to Inuit Literature (2012)