Governor General’s Award–winning Métis poet and acclaimed novelist Katherena Vermette’s second collection, river woman, explores her relationship to nature — its destructive power and beauty, its timelessness, and its place in human history.
Award-winning Métis poet and novelist Katherena Vermette’s second book of poetry, river woman, examines and celebrates love as decolonial action. Here love is defined as a force of reclamation and repair in times of trauma, and trauma is understood to exist within all times. The poems are grounded in what feels like an eternal present, documenting moments of clarity that lift the speaker (and reader) out of the illusion of linear experience. This is what we mean when we describe a work of art as being timeless.
Like the river they speak to, these poems return again and again to the same source in search of new ways to reconstruct what has been lost. Vermette suggests that it’s through language and the body ― particularly through language as it lives inside the body ― that a fragmented self might resurface as once again whole. This idea of breaking apart and coming back together is woven throughout the collection as the speaker contemplates the ongoing negotiation between the city, the land, and the water, and as she finds herself falling into trust with the ones she loves.
Vermette honours the river as a woman ― her destructive power and beauty, her endurance, and her stories. These poems sing from a place where “words / transcend ceremony / into everyday” and “nothing / is inanimate.”
About the author
KATHERENA VERMETTE is a Métis writer from Treaty One territory, the heart of the Métis nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her first book, North End Love Songs (The Muses Company), won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. Her National Film Board short documentary, this river, won the Coup de Coeur award at the Montreal First Peoples Festival and a Canadian Screen Award.
Her first novel, The Break, was a national bestseller and won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award; the Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature; and three Manitoba Book Awards. It was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and CBC’s Canada Reads. She is also the author of the children’s picture book series The Seven Teaching Stories and recently published the first book, Pemmican Wars, in the young adult book series A Girl Called Echo. Ms. Vermette’s second book of poetry, river woman, is forthcoming in the fall of 2018 from House of Anansi Press.
Vermette’s new collection is a strong follow-up to her Governor General’s Award-winning debut, 2012’s North End Love Songs.
Winnipeg Free Press
A book that is at once deeply personal and politically charged.
Quill and Quire
These spare, imagistic poems live up to the words of the Vietnamese spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh, quoted in an epigraph: ‘If our hearts are big, we can be like the river.