Jeudi 7 avril 2022
Intimacy can be a source of both joy and pain. The chance a person takes every time they open themselves up to another is always carefully calculated, in the knowledge that the potential for disaster is always just around the corner. This April, National Poetry Month, you are invited to explore this complex and deeply personal topic through Canadian poetry.
Katherena Vermette and Gwen Benaway both explore the benefits and risks of intimacy in their poems. Vermette draws on her identity as an Indigenous woman in her portrayals of intimacy and violence. Her collection of poems, North End Love Songs is set in the North End neighbourhood of Winnipeg. They portray the intimate emotional connection between a brother and sister and what happens when this connection is broken through tragedy. This is an example of the way in which our close relationships can strengthen us in times of crisis, as well as the pain that can be felt at the loss of that relationship. Vermette is also our featured writer in this year’s One eRead Canada with her novel The Break.
Benaway’s experience as both a trans and Indigenous woman inform the imagery in “Niibii [Water] for Wes” published in the collection Holy Wild. [UPDATE/CORRECTION: Gwen Benaway’s Indigenous ancestry cannot be verified.] She portrays the close connection she feels to the water and its spiritual healing properties. An intimate relationship with the water and her Anishinaabe community helps her to heal from the emotional and sexual violence she experienced at the hands of an ex-partner. This violence is paralleled with the colonial violence experienced by Indigenous peoples, “you said you would take me swimming in Lake Ontario but you took cis girls instead, disappear us into absence as if I were a bad night, you want to forget, as if intimacy was another word for exploration” (p. 4). Running through both these authors’ works is the hope that spiritual intimacy with nature, community and the self can heal what is broken.
We hope you’ll join us in celebrating these authors and many more this month! Please comment below with your thoughts, questions, and poems.