English and Film Studies

ENGL 309 B1: Aboriginal/Indigenous Literature: Literary Movements

J. Abel

Indigenous Poetry and Poetics: Articulating Position and Community Across Nations

In Jeannette Armstrong’s 2001 essay “Four Decades: An Anthology of Canadian Native Poetry from 1960 to 2000,” Armstrong writes that Indigenous poetry is a medium in which we articulate “our own collective colonized heritage of loss, pain, anger and resistance”, and “our pride and identity as Native” people. For Armstrong, Indigenous poetry is not only what she terms “resistance writing” but it is also writing that seeks to build community, foster relationships, and establish “our common experience of being Native in Canada.” In this course, we will be surveying the major undercurrents in Indigenous literary criticism—including focuses on Indigenous Literary Nationalism and reading Indigenous literature as a form of testimony—through positional, reciprocal, and embodied reading practices. Major texts will include Indigenous Poetics in Canada, Marvin Francis’ City Treaty: A Long Poem, Louise Halfe’s Blue Marrow, Tommy Pico’s Nature Poem, Orlando White’s Bone Light, E. Pauline Johnson’s collected poems Flint and Feather, Layli Long Soldier’s Whereas, and Lisa Bird-Wilson’s The Red Files.