Poetry in Motion: John Brady McDonald + The Glass Lodge

It’s been 20 years since the first release of award-winning poet and writer John Brady McDonald’s collection The Glass Lodge. In advance of August’s launch of a 20th Anniversary Edition from Shadowpaw Press, McDonald joins us to reflect on the poetry he was writing back then and its continued relevance for Indigenous youth, and reads from the collection.

The cover of the 20th Anniversary Edition of The Glass Lodge by John Brady McDonald. A medicine wheel is in dripping watercolour paint against a black background.


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Poetry in Motion

“At the time of writing The Glass Lodge in the 1990s, I was a young, moody, and jaded Gen X poet heavily influenced by Jim Morrison and beat poetry. My early work was indicative of the morose, goth mentality, very dark and whiny. Amongst that, however, was a chronicle of what I was going through as an Indigenous teenager in an urban setting,  the struggle to connect with a culture stolen by Residential School, a longing for emotional connection, the struggle with addiction and the desire to hide from the traumas I had experienced. While my writing style and craft has matured as I’ve gotten older, those poems from my youth still hold up in their content.” –John Brady McDonald

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A photo of Nehiyawak-Metis writer John Brady McDonald. He is a man with hair tied in a ponytail and a goatee, wearing a black shirt with the sleeves pushed up to reveal tattoos along his arms.
Photo of John credit Genelle Amber Studios.

John Brady McDonald, the author of The Glass Lodge, is a Nehiyawak-Metis writer, artist, historian, musician, playwright, actor and activist born and raised in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He is from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and the Mistawasis Nehiyawak. The great-great-great grandson of Chief Mistawasis of the Plains Cree, as well as the grandson of famed Metis leader Jim Brady, John’s writings and artwork have been displayed in various publications, private and permanent collections and galleries around the world, including the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. John is one of the founding members of the P.A. Lowbrow art movement, and served as Vice President of the Indigenous Peoples Artists Collective for nearly a decade. John also served a term as vice-chair of the Board of Directors for Spark Theatre, and as a Senator with the Indigenous Council Committee of CUPE Saskatchewan. 

John is the author of several books, and has had his written works published and presented around the globe.

​John has studied at England’s prestigious University of Cambridge, where in July 2000 he made international headlines by symbolically “discovering” and “claiming” England for the First Peoples of the Americas. John is also an acclaimed public speaker, who has presented in venues across the globe, such as the Anskohk Aboriginal Literature Festival, the Black Hills Seminars on Reclaiming Youth, The Appalachian Mountain Seminars, the Edmonton and Fort McMurray Literary Festival, the Eden Mills Writers Festival and at the Ottawa International Writers Festival. John was honoured with the opportunity to speak in Australia in April of 2001. John was also included in the Aboriginal Artists and Performers Inventory for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, BC. 

John’s artwork and writing have been nominated for several awards, including the 2022 Saskatchewan Book of the Year Awards, the 2022 High Plains Book Awards and the 2023 Lambda Literary Awards. John was awarded the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal (Saskatchewan). He has been honoured with several grants from the Saskatchewan Arts Board. 

To learn more about John: artbyjohnmcdonald.weebly.com/

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Many thanks to John for sharing this reading and reflection with us. The Glass Lodge‘s 20th Anniversary Edition releases August 13, and is available for preorder here or from your favourite indie bookstore.

For more Poetry in Motion, click here.