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Poetry Native American


by (author) Jordan Abel

contributions by Kathleen Ritter

Initial publish date
Apr 2015
Native American
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2020
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2015
    List Price

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Award-winning Nisga’a poet Jordan Abel’s second collection of poetry, Un/inhabited, maps the terrain of the public domain to create a layered investigation of the interconnections between language and land.

Abel constructed the book’s source text by compiling in their entirety ninety-one western novels found on the website Project Gutenberg, an online archive of works whose copyright has expired. Using his word processor’s Ctrl-F function, he searched the compilation for words that relate to the political and social aspects of land, territory, and ownership. Each search query represents a study in context (How was this word deployed? What surrounded it? What is left over once that word is removed?) accumulating toward a representation of the public domain as a discoverable and inhabitable body of land.

Featuring a text by independent curator Kathleen Ritter – the first piece of scholarship on Abel’s work – Un/inhabited reminds us of the power of language as material and invites us to reflect on what is present in the empty space when we see nothing.

About the authors

Jordan Abel is a Nisga'a writer from Vancouver. He is the author of The Place of Scraps (winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize), Un/inhabited, and Injun (winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize). Abel's latest project NISHGA (forthcoming from McClelland & Stewart in 2020) is a deeply personal and autobiographical book that attempts to address the complications of contemporary Indigenous existence and the often invisible intergenerational impact of residential schools. Abel recently completed a PhD at Simon Fraser University, and is currently working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta.

Jordan Abel's profile page

Kathleen Ritter's profile page


  • Long-listed, One of 15 best CanLit covers of 2015 (CBC Books)

Editorial Reviews

“This is a compelling and difficult text, one whose political resonance is made all the more evident by the ambiguities that pervade it. … Abel mounts a (sometimes wry) challenge to the representation of Indigenous peoples in Westerns, but his poetic practice is also in line with other recent works of experimental poetry … the text which is the source of violence is also the wellspring of resistance, anger, reclamation, and hope. … what is most interesting about Un/inhabited is the ambiguity that complicates the more obvious metaphors linking text with land and reading with resource extraction.” —Canadian Literature

“At once graphic art, anti-poetry, a trace history of reading, and sociological groundwork, Un/inhabited is something entirely new that defies easy categorization or description. This is art working its hardest edge to build an understanding of how our present and past continue to shape and reshape each other.”
– Shane Rhodes

“He pokes holes into these frontier stories – revealing the sublimated horror in their comic gothic conventions. This isn’t conceptual writing so much as foundational writing. Defoundational. Unsettling. He graphically strip-mines texts – interrupts their ideology, and asks you to fill in – suture – the blanks. Rush into this necessary, (de)literary landscape.”
– Gregory Betts

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