page as bone – ink as blood

By Jónína Kirton

page as bone – ink as blood
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Death, desire, and divination are the threads running through Jónína Kirton’s debut collection of poems and lyric prose. Delicate and dark, the pieces are like whispers in the night – a haunted, quiet telling of truths the mind has locked away but the body remembers. Loosely ... Read more


Overview

Death, desire, and divination are the threads running through Jónína Kirton’s debut collection of poems and lyric prose. Delicate and dark, the pieces are like whispers in the night – a haunted, quiet telling of truths the mind has locked away but the body remembers. Loosely autobiographical, these are the weavings of a wagon-goddess who ventures into the double-world existence as a mixed-race woman. In her struggle for footing in this in-between space, she moves from the disco days of trance dance to contemplations in her dream kitchen as a mother and wife.

With this collection, Kirton adds her voice to the call for the kind of fierce honesty referred to by Muriel Rukeyser when she asked, What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open. Kirton tells her truth with gentleness and patience, splitting the world open one line at a time.

Jónína Kirton

Jónína Kirton is a Red River Métis/Icelandic poet and a graduate of the Simon Fraser University’s Writer’s Studio, where she is an instructor and their BIPOC Auntie. A late-blooming poet, she was sixty-one when she received the 2016 City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for an Emerging Artist in the Literary Arts category. A board member of the Indigenous Editors Association, she works with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous authors and poets.

Her first collection of poetry, page as bone – ink as blood, was released by Talonbooks in 2015; Joanne Arnott described it as “restorative, intimate poetry, drawing down ancestral ideas into the current moment's breath.” Talonbooks released her second collection, An Honest Woman, in 2017. It was a finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize; Betsy Warland said of it: “Kirton picks over how she was raised familially and culturally like a crime scene.”

Reviews

“Jónína Kirton sifts through her life – our lives – picking up piercing images and sorting stories of the senses, exploring the push-pull of being human, the delight and ambivalence of being in our own skin. Slowly, by being faithful to the moments, her poems find fragments of freedom by telling the truth. ”
—Oriah Mountain Dreamer

“Kirton’s poems are peacemaking, both generous gesture and much-needed literary poultice. ”
—Joanne Arnott

“Jónína Kirton’s memoir in verse could be an epic novel, a haunting ballad, a film noir. What it is: a visitation by ghosts and spirits, familial secrets, and retrieved historical mis-memories. As intermediaries between European and Indian cultures, she retraces her Métis inheritance and her own arduous journey to becoming a twenty-first-century guide we are much in need of. ”
—Betsy Warland

“These are poems out of a woman’s experience and the matriarchy. Some of the most moving and affecting poems within the collection are love letters to the writer’s/speaker’s mother, who has died from breast cancer. … Kirton avoids outright confessional by raising the question of what voice is and can be, and does this as a poet. … introducing the awareness of human fallibility and how “story” is fraught, gives the writing authenticity and the writer welcome authority. Moments like this in writing are hard won and as such are to be treasured and sustained. ” — The Maynard

“[Kirton] retraces her Métis inheritance and her own arduous journey to becoming a twenty-first-century guide we are much in need of. ”
—Betsy Warland

“page as bone – ink as blood is restorative, intimate poetry, drawing down ancestral ideas into the current moment’s breath. Writing from a place of ‘curious contradiction,’ ‘of skin a little wild,’ Kirton begins by re-spinning the threads of indigenous immigrant, and poem by poem shoves the shuttle forward and back, remaking human integrity from ghosts and bloody matter. In these words, skin is not a barrier but a doorway through which the worlds stride. Kirton’s poems are peacemaking, both generous gesture and much-needed literary poultice. ”
—Joanne Arnott

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