Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Poetry Native American

Ceremonies for the Dead

by (author) Gwen Benaway

edited by Daniel Heath-Justice

Kegedonce Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2013
Native American, Death, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2013
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.


Ceremonies for the Dead is an award-winning collection of poems that examine the haunting themes of inter-generational trauma, cyclical abuse, and inherited grief. Four generations of the dead take turns narrating these themes, navigating from the Great Lakes through the Appalachian Mountains, and examining the fur trade, an exile from Minnesota, the experiences of West Virginia coal miners, and the legacy of mission schools. Black humour and satire fill the collection, illuminating a fierce determination to survive and resist colonization and the endurance of culture and identity under extreme duress.

About the authors

Gwen Benaway is a trans girl of Anishinaabe and Métis descent. She has published three collections of poetry—Ceremonies for the Dead, Passage, and Holy Wild, winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry. It was also a finalist for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry, and the Publishing Triangle Award for Trans and Gender-Variant Literature, and was longlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. She is the editor of an anthology of fantasy short stories titled Maiden Mother and Crone: Fantastical Trans Femmes. She has been a finalist for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Writers from the Writers' Trust of Canada, and her personal essay, "A Body Like A Home," was the Gold Prize Winner for the National Magazine Awards in Personal Journalism. She is also currently editing a book of creative nonfiction, trans girl in love. day/break is her fourth book of poetry. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, and is a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto in the Women and Gender Studies Institute.

Gwen Benaway's profile page

Daniel Heath-Justice's profile page


  • Winner, Speaker's Young Authors Award

Editorial Reviews

"Ceremonies for the Dead is such a rare find. I have mulled over the manuscript for the past few weeks, hunting for a single extraordinary line, an image that stops you dead in your tracks, with its song, its beauty and its visceral truth that I could cite in this blurb. I combed the manuscript a half dozen times and gave up as I realized that every line, every stanza is a beautiful song containing visceral truth that stopped me dead in my tracks. More than that, each line compelled me to read the next line and excited me with its revelation, its depth, its courage and its beauty.Every poem is a prayer. Every line sings like an open road heading straight for the heart. Ceremonies danced me through my very soul and I fell into my own ancestors as I read. It feels like I have been looking for these poems since all my life..." - Lee Maracle, Award-winning Poet, Novelist and Performance Storyteller"The rituals of the living, the words and the bodies of the living and the dead, come together in these heart-rending poems by Giles Benaway. The struggle to make peace and beauty within lives designated 'okay to hate' by North American statesman, rises nightmarishly and moves through specificity and ends, very gently, with a lullaby." - Joanne Arnott (Steepy Mountain love poetry, Wiles of Girlhood)

Other titles by Gwen Benaway

Related lists