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LPG First Nations Books (Spring 2016)

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In the Dog House
By (author): Wanda John-Kehewin
9780889227491 Paperback, Trade English General Trade POETRY / Canadian Apr 15, 2012
$16.95 CAD
Forthcoming 6 x 9 x 0.5 in 96 pages Talonbooks

In her first idiom-shattering book of poetry, Wanda John-Kehewin endeavours to “speak her truth,” combining elements of First Nations oral tradition with a style of dramatic narrative that originates from the earliest traditions of cultural storytelling and also keeps pace with the rhythmical undulations of Canadian poets such as James Reaney and E.J. Pratt.

However, in a contemporary setting, the magniloquent narrative of nation-building has given way to fragmentary and reflexive self- examination that is inextricably bound to a history of colonization, the residual effects of which are buried deep within silent sufferers. Divided into four aspects of the Medicine Wheel – one of many stone structures scattered across the Alberta Plains – this collection calls for us to acknowledge the blatant neglect of quality of life on Native reserves and to explore ameliorative processes of restorative justice.

In emotive and yet wryly unsentimental tones, John-Kehewin lends her voice to many forms of suffering that surround enforced loss of culture, addressing topics such as alcohol addiction, familial abandonment, religious authority, sexual abuse, and the pain of mourning for loved ones. John-Kehewin does not spare herself when relating her own stories, even as she tells the stories of others that are so like her own, admonishing humanity for its lack of conscience in poems that journey from the turmoil of the Gaza Strip to rapidly dissolving ice floes …

Wanda John-Kehewin is, as she describes herself, “a First Nations woman searching for the truth and a way to be set free from the past” – shoving aside that lingering sense of shame and stigma – taking the reader on a healing journey that reveals language to be an elusive creature indeed and one that gives new definition to what being “in the dog house” could be, if we as human beings listen carefully and learn to remedy our misunderstandings.

Cree poet Wanda John-Kehewin has studied criminology, sociology, Aboriginal studies, and creative writing while attending Simon Fraser University’s TWS Writing Program. She uses writing as a therapeutic medium for understanding and responding to the near decimation of Native culture, language, and tradition.

John-Kehewin has been published in Quills Poetry, Salish Seas, UBC’s Aboriginal Anthology, SFU’s Emerge anthology. She has shared her writing on Co-op Radio and performed at numerous readings throughout Vancouver's lower mainland, including for the Writer’s Union Guild of Canada.

John-Kehewin writes with great honesty about living a life in which those taboo subjects ‘like alcohol addiction, abandonment, religion, and sexual abuse,’ interpolate their way into every day’s living. – eclecticruckus “Her work is brave, brilliant, and relentless. Her voice deserves to be heard.” – Garry Gottfriedson “Between the body & the utterance is the meaning. Read these poems aloud – as if your life depended upon it – for it does. Wanda John-Kehewin unstops our ears with her unflinching evocation of the “colonial pesticide” now threatening all forms of life.” – Betsy Warland, Breathing the Page – Reading the Act of Writing “Playful, painful, indignant, compassionate, a new voice emerges into the realms of Canadian poetry. Wanda John-Kehewin is a smart, sharp observer, and an articulate craftswoman. Her poetry shines.” – Joanne Arnott

“Her work is brave, brilliant, and relentless. Her voice deserves to be heard.”
– Garry Gottfriedson

“Playful, painful, indignant, compassionate, a new voice emerges into the realms of Canadian poetry. Wanda John-Kehewin is a smart, sharp observer, and an articulate craftswoman. Her poetry shines.”
– Joanne Arnott

“Between the body & the utterance is the meaning. Read these poems aloud – as if your life depended upon it – for it does. Wanda John-Kehewin unstops our ears with her unflinching evocation of the “colonial pesticide” now threatening all forms of life.”
– Betsy Warland, Breathing the Page – Reading the Act of Writing

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