Braided Skin is the vibrant telling of experiences of mixed ethnicity, urban childhood, poverty and youthful dreams through various voices. Knight writes a confident rhythm of poetry, prose and erasure by using the recurring image of braiding–a different metaphor than “mixing,” our default when speaking the language of race. In the title poem “Braided Skin,” this terminology shifts, to entwining and crossing, holding together but always displaying the promise or threat of unravelling. This is just as all tellings of family, history and relationships must be–“Skin that carries stories of missing middles.” When speaking about race, Knight raises the question, then drops it, and the image becomes other objects, then abstraction, and memory–finally becoming something “she breathes in” actively.
About the author
CHELENE KNIGHT is the author of the novel Junie, which was longlisted for the inaugural Carol Shields Prize for Fiction; the memoir Dear Current Occupant, winner of the 2018 Vancouver Book Award and longlisted for the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature; and Braided Skin. Her essays have appeared in multiple Canadian and American publications. Previously the managing editor at Room magazine and the director of the Growing Room Festival in Vancouver, Knight has also worked as a poetry professor at the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia and as a literary agent at the Transatlantic Agency. Knight has now founded her own literary studio, Breathing Space Creative, through which she’s launched the Forever Writers Club, a membership for writers focused on creative sustainability; the Thrive coaching program; and the Rise author care program.