Within Terese Marie Mailhot’s (Seabird Island Band) Heart Berries: A Memoir there are two chapters with the title “Indian Condition.” A reader may stop to carefully look at the Table of Contents and think to themselves this is interesting, unusual. They may notice that the two chapters appear at the start and near the end of the book, that both are relatively short, only two pages in length, and that both begin with a structurally similar first line. …
In her first book, In My Own Moccasins: A Memoir of Resilience, Knott (Dane Zaa Nehiyaw) gives an honest and powerful exploration of sexual violence, addiction, and the potential for healing and kinship amidst trauma. In “Part One: The Dreamless Void,” Knott introduces the reader to “Her. The Her” (Knott 180). The anonymous Her, Knott explains, is “[t]he girl who was [her] best friend and has always been a thread woven throughout [her] life and story of survival. [She] could never escape the thought of Her” (51).
We, the reader, find this to be true.
Her intertwines herself in the fibres of Knott’s memoir from “Part One: The Dreamless Void” to “Part Two: The In-Between to “Part Three: The Healing.” The result of this structure is two distinct perspectives and narratives of addiction, abuse and sobriety, highlighting the nuances of gender-based violence that Indigenous girls and women experience under the imposing structures of settler colonialism. The anonymity of Her presents Knott with the opportunity to speak on behalf of the collective while simultaneously offering her own voice of survival and strength. Together, their stories amplify the importance of Indigenous kinship systems of love, reciprocity, care, and acknowledgement amidst the drowning silence of collective and intergenerational trauma. …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brandy Bird is a Two-Spirit Saulteaux and Cree poet. Bird grew up on Treaty 1 territory in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They are currently living and learning on Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh land. Their work has been published in Poetry is Dead, Pearls and is forthcoming in Prism. Their debut chapbook, I Am Still Too Much, is a work highly concerned with place and family and was written with the prairies always in heart and mind (Rahila’s Ghost Press, https://rahilasghostpress.com/portfolio/i-am-still-too-much-by-brandi-bird/).
I am still
too heavy for the wind to take me
anywhere. I am still too much.
— Brandi Bird…