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Poetry Express: Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer
Renowned writer Louise Bernice Halfe, also known by the Cree name Sky Dancer, was named Canada’s new Parliamentary Poet Laureate earlier this year. For National Poetry Month, we’re thrilled to celebrate Louise and her newly published books from two independent Canadian publishers. awâsis – kinky and dishevelled (Brick Books) features a mischievous, unapologetic alter ego. awâsis (which means illuminated child) reveals herself through shapeshifting, adopting different genders, exploring the English language with merriment, and sharing his journey of mishaps with humor, mystery, and spirituality. A Holy Fool with their fly open, speaking Cree, awâsis came to Louise out of the ancient stories of her people, from the quiet words of the Elders, from community input through tears and laughter, from her own aching heart and her three-dimensional dreams. awâsis – kinky and dishevelled is a force of Indigenous resurgence, resistance, and soul-healing laughter.Originally published more than twenty years ago, Blue Marrow (Kegedonce Press) includes an all-new interview with the author. This collection highlights the voices of the Grandmothers, both personal and legendary. They share their wisdom, their lives, their dreams. They proclaim the injustice of colonialism, the violence of proselytism, and the horrors of the residential school system with an honesty that cuts to the marrow. Speaking in both English and Cree, these are voices of hopefulness, strength, and survivance. Blue Marrow is a tribute to the indomitable power of Indigenous women of the past and of the present day.Read on for our interview with Louise where she talks to us about why she writes, how “poetry is in my language,” and about walking tours and seven-day canoe trips. Plus, read a poem from awâsis – kinky and dishevelled and Blue Marrow, below.
Sample poems from Louise’s new books, below.
* * *Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky DancerLouise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer was raised on Saddle Lake Reserve and attended Blue Quills Residential School. Her early books, Bear Bones and Feathers (1994), Blue Marrow (2004), The Crooked Good (2007), and Burning In This Midnight Dream (2016) have all received numerous accolades and awards. Her latest poetry collections are awâsis – kinky and dishevelled and Blue Marrow. Halfe was awarded the Latner Writers Trust Award for her body of work in 2017, and was awarded the 2020 Kloppenburg Award for Literary Excellence. In early 2021, she was named Canada’s parliamentary poet laureate. She has also been granted a lifetime membership in the League of Canadian Poets, and currently works with Elders in the organization Opikinawasowin (“raising our children”) and lives near Saskatoon with her husband, Peter.
* * *During the month of April, you can buy awâsis – kinky and dishevelled and Blue Marrow along with any one of our other featured Poetry Express books for 15% off + free shipping in Canada with promo code NPMexpress. Or find them at your local independent bookstore with our Shop Local option.Thanks for following along with us all month as we celebrated 21 Canadian poets writing in all sorts of spaces! Until next year, happy National Poetry Month!