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Poetry Indigenous

it was never going to be okay

by (author) jaye simpson

Nightwood Editions
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
Indigenous, Death, LGBT
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
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it was never going to be okay is a collection of poetry and prose exploring the intimacies of understanding intergenerational trauma, Indigeneity and queerness, while addressing urban Indigenous diaspora and breaking down the limitations of sexual understanding as a trans woman. As a way to move from the linear timeline of healing and coming to terms with how trauma does not exist in subsequent happenings, it was never going to be okay tries to break down years of silence in simpson’s debut collection of poetry:

i am five

my sisters are saying boy

i do not know what the word means but—

i am bruised into knowing it: the blunt b,

the hollowness of the o, the blade of y

About the author

jaye simpson is a Two-Spirit Oji-Cree person of the Buffalo Clan with roots in Sapotaweyak and Skownan Cree Nation who often writes about being queer in the child welfare system, as well as being queer and Indigenous. simpson’s work has been performed at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (2017) in Peterborough, and in Guelph with the Vancouver Slam Poetry 2018 Team. simpson has recently been named the Vancouver Champion for the Women of the World Poetry Slam and their work has been featured in Poetry Is Dead, This Magazine, PRISM international, SAD Mag, GUTS Magazine and Room. simpson resides on the unceded and ancestral territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), səlilwəta’Ɂɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) First Nations peoples, currently and colonially known as Vancouver, BC.

jaye simpson's profile page


  • Short-listed, Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers
  • Winner, Indigenous Voices Award: Published Poetry in English

Editorial Reviews

jaye simpson’s it was never going to be okay is a symphony of unrelenting rage and undying hope that beckons to be heard, seen and held with the utmost care. In this stunning debut they speak truths to the complexities of the body, land and memory through an intimately structured and poignant cadence. This collection will leave you longing for more and, in the legacy of trans Indigenous literature, change lives.

Arielle Twist, author of Disintegrate/Dissociate

jaye simpson debuts with a remarkable collection of words taking you through the poetics of desire, kinship and distinct feeling. This selection of work cements their necessary place within the literary canon of queer Indigenous script as a writer whose pivotal and articulate voice evokes that familiar sense of yearning, care and ancestral knowledge with every page.

Justin Ducharme, co-editor of Hustling Verse: an Anthology of Sex Workers' Poetry

jaye simpson marshals a vast economy of images because their subject matter is as large as an entire country, as the colonial past, as structures of oppression and indifference that undermine Indigenous and trans livability. At the level of craft, simpson makes use of the codes of tragedy, polemic, autobiography and the lyric artfully and powerfully. By the book’s end, buoyed by its final beautiful and tender section, a kind of love letter to trans Indigenous peoples, one is called on to build a new world. In this way, jaye simpson's poetry is a vital artifact of a decolonial future!

Billy-Ray Belcourt, 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize winner for This Wound Is a World

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