InSkin Like Mine Garry Gottfriedson offers a suite of poems that peel away the skin of contemporary first nations society to reveal an inside view of individual experience. Gottfriedson speaks of "minds full of anticipation" yet with "tongues pointing arrowheads. " Today's youth, he says, are "afraid of themselves. " He finds that both individuals and bands end in "tangles," that they write "nonsense words in the sand" or exploit images painted on rocks, those "the postmodern Indian calls / visual poetic expression. " As the collection continues, however, Gottfriedson's love for the land emerges. He draws attention to the rape of the natural environment, the skin of Mother Earth, through clear-cut logging. He speaks of the damage caused by the pine beetle, of "forests being / eaten from the inside out. " And here it is that Gottfriedson introduces the mysterious Horsechild, who is to prepare the drying racks for the returning salmon "so that beneath your skin / the mountains will be forever abundant": a prayer for us to protect the migrating salmon on their multi-year cycles, to protect the bears and eagles that feast upon them, so as to assure that the transformations will continue, that there will be abundance for both humans and the earth itself.
Garry Gottfriedson, from the Secwepemc first nation (Shuswap), was born, raised and lives in Kamloops, BC. He is a self-employed rancher with a Masters degree in Education from Simon Fraser University. He was awarded the Gerald Red Elk Creative Writing Scholarship by the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, where he studied under Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, Marianne Faithful and others. His published works includeIn Honor of Our Grandmothers: Imprints of Cultural Survival (Theytus Books, 1994),100 Years of Contact (Secwepemc Cultural Education Society, 1990),Glass Tepee (Thistledown Press, 2002 - nominated for First People's Publishing Award 2004),Painted Pony (Partners in Publishing, 2005),Whiskey Bullets (Ronsdale, 2006 - Anskohk Aboriginal Award Finalist),Skin Like Mine (Ronsdale, 2010 - Shortlisted for the CAA Award for Poetry), andJimmy Tames Horses (Kegedonce Press, 2012). Gottfriedson has read from his work across North America, Asia and Europe, and frequently gives creative writing workshops and lectures. His work has been internationally anthologized.