Our SAWCI Recommends series will be highlighting our favourite Indigenous titles. We hope that through SAWCI Recommends, you’ll learn more about us, the community, and find some gems to curl up with in your favourite reading spaces!
Our second SAWCI Recommends is from SAWCI Advisory Circle member, Rita Bouvier!
Rita is a published poet. Thistledown Press will be releasing her fourth collection, a beautiful rebellion in the spring of 2023. Rita, a retired Metis educator, has served in various leadership roles in K-12 and post-secondary education. She continues to provide leadership by facilitating and supporting decolonizing efforts with various communities, organizations and institutions, when called upon.
Rita has recommended The Radiant Lives of Animals by Linda Hogan, Beacon Press, 2020.
Chickasaw writer, Linda Hogan’s award-winning collection of essays and poetry, The Radiant Lives of Animals, is evocative, restorative, and soul comforting. Hogan wrote The Radiant Lives of Animals as a ‘spiritual meditation’ on our relationship with the natural world. The preface briefly explores the distinct views of this relationship, held by Europeans and tribal people on all continents. She writes, most Europeans theories “made the natural environment smaller than it was and made the human larger.” “For tribal thinkers, it is the world outside us that creates our humanity, and what inhabits us.” To nurture our growth as humans, to heal, we must see ourselves as a part of a larger working system. Soul loss happens when the world around us disappears. The cure she writes “is in the mist of morning, the grass that grew a little through the night, the first warmth of morning sunlight, and the human walking in a world infused with intelligence and spirit.” From this point of departure, we embark on a storied journey from her modest ‘house of words’ in the woods outside Denver, Colorado and throughout the region to her beloved home in Oklahoma to discover the incredible and radiant lives of animals and other beings—horses, plants, mountain lions, snakes, wolves, foxes, wasps, and many others, whose presence changed her life and healed her. Her stories and writing are mesmerizing. For example, in ‘The Visitant,’ Hogan recalls one cold winter storm that lasted for days and describes the hardship of working day and night to keep a narrow path open from her modest home to the barn to ensure the horses were safe, fed and watered. One moonlit evening on the path, she meets an elk with enormous antlers “worn like a crown” and she must find a way around him, by living small and communicating she is not a threat, so they might survive the winter storm with one another, and they do. She reminds us we are more than one kind of animal – one who is kind and the other “who carries the sword without regard for others”. She imagines, the elk knows this about us. Later, she meets the elk one last time in a new place and the rest of the story is yours to hold by purchasing this incredible book of prose and poetry for yourself or a friend who needs consolation in a period of dark times.
Available from Turning the Tide Bookstore: https://turning.ca/item/VdT28uSLKvZoXX4wT0v_QA
First up is SAWCI board member, Colleen Charlette!
Tansi, hello, allow me to introduce myself. I am Colleen Charlette. I have held a voting membership in good stead with the Saskatchewan Anskohk Writers Circle Inc. since 2011.
We have re-branded from Saskatchewan Aboriginal Writers’ Circle Inc. to incorporate more indigenous language into our acronym and into the ethos. SAWCI seeks to attract, encourage and support First Nations, Metis and Inuit voices within the province named after a Cree word describing a river dynamic. I am a spoken word poet and self-disclosed word freak.
I would like to highlight the title, the prairie chicken dance tour, by author, Dawn Dumont. I ate the book like soul food: voraciously and guiltlessly.
the prairie chicken dance tour is the freshest release of comedy-writer, Dawn Dumont. Ms. Dumont presses all of comedy’s elevator buttons all at once at the beginning, hurtling the reader at breakneck speed into the unfolding of the plot and development of the characters and their respective backstories. Her wry social commentary interspersed as the plot ever thickens.
“I laughed, I cried, I laughed again.” I cried again as I neared the last few pages because I wanted the book and the tour to continue. Zingers, one-liners and acid remarks abound leaving only the kaleidoscopic eyes of a fly undizzy. Socio-economic themes are visited but never too preachy unlike the character called Edna.
After reading the final pages of the last chapter, I felt like I had left a ceremony. Such was the effect of my vicarious reading and following of the plotlines of the characters depicted in the dance troupe’s tour.
Ensuing hilarious scenarios lend credence to the compassionately shaped characters introduced to the reader. Conflict ensures the unfurling of magnificent drama. Dawn Dumont presents socio-economic dilemmas with the softest buckskin gloves treatment offering generational backstories to characters’ ‘present-day’ challenges.
Dawn Dumont’s brilliant comedic gift and her profound understanding of Metis and First Nations culture compel pages to be turned.
I fully recommend that anyone with an itchy funny bone read Freehand Books publication, the prairie chicken dance tour.
Available from Turning the Tide: https://turning.ca/item/RZsUYuhDith1NnvdnfOySg