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Poetry Indigenous


by (author) Délani Valin

Nightwood Editions
Initial publish date
Nov 2022
Indigenous, Native American, Women Authors
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2022
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2022
    List Price

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In Shapeshifters, Délani Valin explores the cost of finding the perfect mask. Through a lens of urban Métis experience and neurodivergence, Valin takes on a series of personas as an act of empathy as resistance. Some personas are capitalist mascots like the Starbucks siren, Barbie and the Michelin Man, who confide the hopes and frustrations that lay hidden behind their relentless public enthusiasm. Others include psychiatric diagnoses like hypochondria, autism and depression, and unlikely archetypes such as a woman who becomes a land mass by ending the quest to shrink herself. In more confessional poems, the pressure to find relief from otherness often leads to magical thinking: portals, flight, telepathy and incantations all become metaphors for survival. Shapeshifters maps ways in which an individual can attempt to fit into a world that is inhospitable to them, and makes a case to shift the shape of that world.

About the author

Délani Valin is neurodivergent and Métis with Nehiyaw, Saulteaux, French-Canadian and Czech ancestry. She studies for her master’s in professional communications at Royal Roads University, and has a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Vancouver Island University. Her poetry has been awarded The Malahat Review’s Long Poem Prize and subTerrain’s Lush Triumphant Award. Her work has appeared in PRISM International, Adbusters, Room, and in the anthologies Those Who Make Us and Bawaajigan. She is on the editorial board of Room and The Malahat Review, and lives on traditional and unceded Snuneymuxw territory (Nanaimo, BC).

Délani Valin's profile page


  • Short-listed, Indigenous Voices Awards (published poetry in English)

Editorial Reviews

Shapeshifters is a fearless, powerful debut by an important and challenging new voice. In poems that range from the lyric to the surreal, the pop-culture monologue to the extended confessional, Délani Valin’s rich lines are precise, complex and often startling. “There are no safe spaces / There never were,” Valin writes, as she explores what it is to wrestle with the expectations and identities projected onto us by others, what is live in our bodies and in our minds, to struggle with our memories, to tell our stories, to yearn to be plant, animal, earth. All of this, and a lesson in snail hygiene.”

Stuart Ross

“Valin’s vibrant imagery, skillful use of alliteration, and long-form narrative style guide the reader through portals and incantations that wrench open a new world, inviting a reimagining of how we relate beyond sexist, colonial constraints.”

Nicky Taylor, <i>Maisonneuve</i>

“In Shapeshifters, Délani Valin cracks open pop culture and history to transform being into a mutable, kaleidoscopic experience. Deftly wielding vivid personae, the poet refuses to “bifurcate [her] history” and, instead, forges a stunning poetic tapestry that welcomes every stray strand of personal and collective stories.”

Adèle Barclay

“Valin’s first collection is the weird and wonderful straight-talking baby Carol Anne Duffy and Jordan Scott never had. Reading them feels like coming home, settling down with a Coke Zero, and realizing you’re in someone else’s house. I want to read everything Valin writes.”

Elizabeth Bachinsky

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