October 18, 2018

In  Holy Wild (Book*hug), award-winning poet Gwen Benaway lays bare her experiences as a trans woman of Anishinaabe and Métis descent. She charts sexual intimacy and self- and other-love but also transphobia and settler colonialism through gorgeous, expansive poems, like the title poem we've featured below.

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Keep up all October long as we read, share, and discover Indigenous authors and works.




From  Holy Wild by Gwen Benaway (Book*hug)


Holy Wild


my gookum said only

the wild ones are holy.


bush in northern Michigan

is the ancestral field of my body,


a girl who tastes of summer ragweed

in the high heat of noon.


my body grows by night in secret,

wet with yearling dew.


breasts and hips spread

like bushfires in a dry season,


skin pale as moonlight at dawn,

soft as a muskrat’s pelt skinned in March.


my mouth is a damselfly’s wings,

iridescent breath on your sex.


my hips hold a cock the colour

of crushed blueberries, bittersweet purple.


my breasts dart from your hands

like minnows, chase deeper water.


my gookum said a woman moves

like the sway of cattails in a June wind.

I lean to you like an otter dives, slick

and glistening against your chest.


underneath the cedar of my thighs,

past the birch tree of my spine


is an opening, a rattlesnake den,

when you press your body in me,


the sound I make is a blackbird’s cry.

here is the wild heart of me,


rush of heat on your fullness,

this is the holy wild she made me.


a woman’s sex is as sacred as her land,

my ancestors learned from creation,


a woman is as holy wild as

her body’s made to be.



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The Author


Gwen Benaway_Author Photo_Credit Jon Elliott_sm

Gwen Benaway is of Anishinaabe and Métis descent. She has previously published two collections of poetry, Ceremonies for the Dead and Passage. A Two-Spirited Trans poet, she has been described as the spiritual love child of Tomson Highway and Anne Sexton. She has received many distinctions and awards, including the Dayne Ogilvie Honour of Distinction for Emerging Queer Authors from the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Her poetry and essays have been published in national publications and anthologies, including The Globe and Mail, Maclean’s Magazine, CBC Arts, and many others. She was born in Wingham, Ontario and currently resides in Toronto, Ontario.



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Remember: buy  Holy Wild or any of our  READ INDIGENOUS books and get this stunning limited-run tote bag featuring colourful artwork from Indigenous visual artists Kaya Joan, Alan Syliboy, Dawn Oman, and Lauren Crazybull until November 15th (while supplies last). And don't forget to check out today's other READ INDIGENOUS feature, As Long as the Sun Shines by Janet Rogers (Bookland Press).



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