On today's solo episode of Teachin' Books, I'm talking about the work of acclaimed poet Louise Bernice Halfe, whose Cree name is Sky Dancer.
In particular, I'm talking about an excerpt from Blue Marrow and a short poem called “Body Politics” from Bear Bones & Feathers. For the former: I get into the topic of prairie poetry, prairie literature, and prairie identity, complicated as these formations are, and for the latter, I discuss gender, “womanhood,” and “real” versus “artificial” bodies.
Content warning: In my discussion of Halfe's work, I address issues such as settler-colonialism and its attendant violences, abuse by colonial institutions and the Catholic Church, and residential schools. Please take care.
- Order copies of Louise Halfe's work from your local bookstore. In Saskatoon, I like Turning the Tide and McNally Robinson. Please read the poem that Halfe gave permission to the Saskatchewan Ânskohk Writers’ Circle Inc. (SAWCI) to share, in honour of the children found on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School and in honour of all residential school survivors.
- Find more about SAWCI on their website.
- Read David Gaertner's essay on Blue Marrow, and check out Sôhkêyihta:
The Poetry of Sky Dancer Louise Bernice Halfe, a collection selected and with an introduction by Gaertner, an afterword by Halfe, and published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press. I hope to pick up my copy soon!
- I am grateful to continue to read and learn from The Black Prairie Archives: An Anthology, edited by Karina Vernon and published by Wilfried Laurier University Press. If you haven't gotten yourself a copy yet (or requested that your library purchase one!), you absolutely should.
- Contributions to Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc can be sent to: donations [at] kib [dot] ca, as mentioned in their tweet from June 3 2021.
**The transcript for this episode, once available, will be here.**