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Poetry General

Message Sticks


by (author) Joséphine Bacon

translated by Phyillis Aronoff

Mawenzi House Publishers Ltd.
Initial publish date
Apr 2013
General, Canadian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2013
    List Price

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Translated from the French into English by Phyllis Aronoff.

This bilingual work (English and Innu-aimun) is an invitation to dialogue. Message sticks are the signs that allow the nomadic Innu to orient themselves inland and find their way. The poetry brings the language of the nutshimit (the back country) to life again, recalling the sound of the drum. Simple and beautiful, Joséphine Bacon's poetry is an homage to the land, the ancestors, and the Innu-aimun language. Charting unwritten history, it provides a vision into the intensity of the elders” words.

The language echoes Nutshimit, the language of the region, chanted by the drum. The history of the First Nations people resonates in their rightful anger and their struggles for dignity, the rights to their territory, and cohabitation. Simple and beautiful, Joséphine Bacon's poetry is an homage to the land, the ancestors, and the Innu-aimon language. This poetic testimony recounts the unpublished areas of history. A cosmogenic vision that plunges us into the intensity of the elders” words: the voyage of the bearer of dreams and visions, the horizons of the guide women, the courage of the huntsmen, the children, guarantors of the endurance of the voyage and the trees, unfaltering witnesses of the journey.

About the authors

Joséphine Bacon is an accomplished poet, songwriter, documentary filmmaker, and storyteller. She was born in the Innu community of Pessamit and currently lives in Montreal. She is considered an icon of Quebec literature. Well-known internationally, she has been a guest of honour in Colombia, France, Russia, Armenia, Mexico, Scotland and Haiti. The recipient of many awards, she regularly takes part in poetry performances. For more than 40 years, Bacon has given numerous writing workshops and presentations in universities and many Aboriginal communities. Donald Winkler was born in Winnipeg, graduated from the University of Manitoba, and did graduate study at the Yale School of Drama. From 1967 to 1995 he was a film director and writer at the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal, and since the 1980s, a translator of Quebec literature. In 1994, 2011, and 2013 he won the Governor General's Award for French to English translation, and has been a finalist for the prize on three other occasions. His translation of Samuel Archibald's short story collection, Arvida, was a finalist for the 2015 Giller Prize. He lives in Montreal, Quebec.

Joséphine Bacon's profile page

Phyillis Aronoff's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Joséphine Bacon has written a moving and necessary collection of poems."   --Tristan Malavoy-Racine, Voir

"Bâtons à message / Tshissinuatshitakana, Joséphine Bacon's first collection of poetry, is one of those books you want to give to a friend, saying, "Here, drink in this light.?" --Denise Brassard, Inter, art actuel


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