By (author): Marie-Andrée Gill

Translated by: Kristen Renee Miller

Spawn is a braided collection of brief, untitled poems, a coming-of-age lyric set in the Mashteuiatsh Reserve on the shores of Lake Piekuakami (Saint-Jean) in Quebec. Undeniably political, Gill’s poems ask: How can one reclaim a narrative that has been confiscated and distorted by colonizers?

The poet’s young avatar reaches new levels on Nintendo, stays up too late online, wakes to her period on class photo day, and carves her lovers’ names into every surface imaginable. Encompassing twenty-first-century imperialism, coercive assimilation, and 90s-kid culture, the collection is threaded with the speaker’s desires, her searching: for fresh water to “take the edge off,” for a “habitable word,” for sex. For her “true north”—her voice and her identity.

Like the life cycle of the ouananiche that frames this collection, the speaker’s journey is cyclical; immersed in teenage moments of confusion and life on the reserve, she retraces her scars to let in what light she can, and perhaps in the end discover what to “make of herself”.


Marie-Andrée Gill

MARIE-ANDREE GILL is a member of the Ilnu Nation and grew up on the Mashteuiatsh reserve in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region in Quebec. She is the acclaimed author of three French-language poetry collections, two of which have been translated into English: Spawn and Heating the Outdoors. She hosts the award-winning Radio-Canada podcast “Laissez-nous raconter: L’histoire crochie” (Telling Our Twisted Histories). Gill is a three-time recipient of the Salon du Livre Prize in Poetry, has won two Indigenous Voices Awards, and has been nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. In 2020, Gill was named Artist of the Year by the Quebec Council of Arts and Letters.


Kristen Renee Miller

KRISTEN RENEE MILLER is the executive director and editor-in-chief for Sarabande Books. A poet and translator, she is a 2023 NEA Fellow and the translator of two books from the French by poet Marie-Andrée Gill: Spawn (2020) and Heating the Outdoors (2023). Her work can be found widely, including in POETRY, The Kenyon Review, and Best New Poets. She is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, AIGA, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Gulf Coast Prize in Translation, and the American Literary Translators Association. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky.


“Gill’s poems are like small treasures clutched in buried tree roots, preserving ‘the chalky veins’ of ancestral memory pulsing just below our modern hustle.” —Kiki Petrosino, author of White Blood

“Gill is intimately familiar with violence, but from the side of the victim rather than the perpetrator. She writes about the claustrophobia of life on a reserve (‘get me out of these fifteen square kilometres’) and the conditions that have been foisted upon her by a historically rapacious colonial system of governance: ‘I am a village that didn’t have a choice.'” —Quill and Quire

“Spare and image-driven, the poems in ‘Spawn’ chart a young woman’s coming of age with a captivating mix of lyricism and earthy candour.” —Toronto Star

“The book takes the life cycle of the ouananiche salmon in Lake Piekuakami as an overarching metaphor, reflecting on confines — those we choose, those chosen for us, and those we don’t realize we have a choice about. Gill contemplates, in small poems surrounded by lots of white space, the struggle of “spawning” and all it represents (instinct, fulfillment, continuance, more), for a young person just stepping over the threshold into independence.” —Anomaly

“Marie-Andrée Gill’s spare, luminous micropoems are endlessly surprising, twisting out, into, and unto themselves like complicated lovers. Defiantly fragmentary, these are less petits poèmes en prose than stunning shards of tongues, embodied vernaculars slowly, steadily unsettling grammars. Kristen Renee Miller’s translations retain the elegance and shimmer of the originals while wondrously conveying their knottedness, their syntax of skin. When at last we reach Nitassinan, we are reminded of the world’s poetry documents, but also of the worlds it creates. This is poetry that claims the power to ‘gnaw the meat off / each day and spit out the pin bones’ through a language as unresolved as our decolonial dreams and as necessary as our sovereign desires.” –Urayoán Noel, Judge for the 2020 Gulf Coast Prize in Translation

Spawn is an epic journey that follows the ouananiche in their steadfast ability to hold: rigid, shimmering, hardened to the frigid waters of winter, in all of its capacities of and for whiteness. Here, poems summon a spawn of wonderworking dreams: ‘a woman risen up from all these winter worlds, heaped with ice [and] ready to start again’.” —Joshua Whitehead, author of Jonny Appleseed

“The journey of Gill’s lyric speaker is at once relatable in its particulars and distinctively evocative. Miller’s skillful translation makes vivid a landscape and language that will transport readers.” —Publishers Weekly

“Spawn is unforgettable poetry of the highest order.” —Kaveh Akbar, author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf

“The most impressive part of this book is how such few words carry such grand emotions, how the poetry seems to build an entire landscape then touch on every part of its poetic world. The ‘spawn’ seems to be both the poetic voice and the poem itself. Through the lyrical transformations, through the linguistic translation, at the end of the book it was I the reader who felt changed.” —The Kenyon Review

“This collection of poems is exquisite, exploring delicately and deeply the connection between person and place.” —American Literary Translators Association


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96 Pages
7.75in * 5.25in * .25in


April 09, 2020


Book*hug Press



Book Subjects:

POETRY / American / Native American

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