Vital bilingual poetry by Innu Elder Joséphine Bacon
Uiesh / Somewhere consists of short poems that speak directly to the reader, without artifice or pretension. They arise from Joséphine Bacon’s experience as an Innu woman, whose life has taken her from the nomadic ways of her Ancestors in the northern wilderness of Nitassinan, or Innu Territory, to the clamour and bustle of the city. Wherever she is, the poet and Elder is attentive to the smallest details of her environment … from the moon and the stars, the aurorae borealis, the falling snow, the changing seasons, to the sirens of fire engines and ambulances and the noise of a busy bar night. From her quiet centre, she listens to the voices of the Old Ones, whose stories are alive within her, and looks back at the beauty and the pain of her long life.
About the authors
Joséphine Bacon is an Innu poet born in 1947 in Passamit, Nitassinan / Québec, and now living in Montréal. An icon of Québec literature, she writes in Innu-aimun and French, and has been invited to read her poems in many countries. She has also worked as a translator, community researcher, documentary filmmaker, curator, and songwriter.She spent her early years on the land with her family, living a nomadic life and hearing the stories passed down from her Ancestors. At the age of four, she entered residential school in Mani-Utenam (Maliotenam), where she remained until she was nineteen. She later moved to Montréal and became a translator and transcriber for anthropologists interviewing Innu Elders and knowledge keepers in Labrador and Québec.Her poetry has won many awards, including the Indigenous Voices Award, the international Ostana Prize (for writers whose mother tongue is a language of limited diffusion), and the Prix des libraires du Québec, and has been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry and the Grand Prix du livre de Montréal. She received an honorary doctorate from Université Laval in 2016 and has been inducted into the Ordre de Montréal and the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec. She is the subject of the documentary film Je m’appelle humain (Call Me Human), by Kim O’Bomsawin.Joséphine Bacon has said, “The poems I write are for those to come, so that they do not forget their origins in a land that will recognize their footsteps.”
Phyllis Aronoff, a Montrealer born and bred, translates from French to English, solo or with co-translator Howard Scott. She has translated fiction, poetry, memoirs, and works in the humanities by authors from Québec and France. Among her recent translations are Message Sticks / Tshissinuatshitakana, poems by Innu writer Joséphine Bacon, and novels (co-translated with Howard Scott) by Rima Elkouri and Edem Awumey. Her translations have won several prizes, including the Jewish Book Award for Fiction and, with Howard Scott, the Quebec Writers’ Federation Translation Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation. Phyllis is a past president of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada and has represented translators on the Public Lending Right Commission of Canada.
“A song bathed in light and wisdom, in one moment, true, embodied, powerful, with no secrets … the moment is the whole book. I opened the book at the end of the day, I began the song until the end of the night, I was guided to somewhere in the Nutshimit …” (trans.) –Mylène Bouchard on Uiesh / Somewhere, in Le Libraire, no. 109
Other titles by Joséphine Bacon
Other titles by Phyllis Aronoff
An All-Star Look at Canada's Paralympians
Mina Among the Shadows
Breathe, Baby, Breathe!
Neonatal Intensive Care, Prematurity, and Complicated Pregnancies
Descent into Night
Operation Yellow Star / Black Thursday
A Memoir of a Life in Writing
Women in a World at War
Seven Dispatches from the Front