Often zany and wildly humourous, The Artist & the Moose features a narrator who is commissioned by the federal government to come up with a multicultural aesthetics for the 21st century. The answer, he thinks, resides in the big mystery that surrounds artist Tom Thomson.
Was Thomson's sudden death in Algonquin Park, in that fateful summer of 1917, an accident or was he murdered? To solve this mystery, the narrator sets out from his hometown, Forget, Sasatchewan, to visit the national archives in Ottawa. As his quest unfolds, readers meet the usual suspects in the Tom Thomson saga, including Tom's love interest, but as well a cast of fabulous non–human characters, such as the little bird, Thomson's pipe, Plot, Text, and most prominent of all, the magical Moose, named Ol' Twig–Eater.
While recognizing Thomson's artistic legacy, Kiyooka's fable offers a compelling critique of Canadian cultural nationalism and its violent appropriation of native land and culture., a long process of colonization that exiled the Moose from the very homely spaces once his own.
Complementing this newly edited work is the serial poem, "letters purporting to be abt tom thomson," first published in Artscanada in 1972. These poems capture Kiyooka's initial thoughts on Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven, and set the stage for his writing on Tom Thomson in the years ahead.
The Artist & the Moose: A Fable of Forget is edited with an afterword by Roy Miki, editor of Pacific Windows: The Collected Poems of Roy K. Kiyooka