Winner of the 2022 SK Arts Poetry Award Honouring Anne Szumigalski * 2022 High Plains Book Awards Finalist * 2022 Raymond Souster Award Shortlist * 2022 Pat Lowther Memorial Award Longlist * 2022/2023 First Nation Communities Read Awards Longlist
A gender-fluid trickster character leaps from Cree stories to inhabit this racous and rebellious new work by award-winning poet Louise Bernice Halfe.
There are no pronouns in Cree for gender; awâsis (which means illuminated child) reveals herself through shape-shifting, adopting different genders, exploring the English language with merriment, and sharing his journey of mishaps with humor, mystery, and spirituality. Opening with a joyful and intimate Introduction from Elder Maria Campbell, awâsis — kinky and dishevelled is a force of Indigenous resurgence, resistance, and soul-healing laughter.
If you've read Halfe's previous books, prepared to be surprised by this one. Raging in the dark, uncovering the painful facts wrought on her and her people's lives by colonialism, racism, religion, and residential schools, she has walked us through raw realities with unabashed courage and intense, precise lyricism. But for her fifth book, another choice presented itself. Would she carve her way with determined ferocity into the still-powerful destructive forces of colonialism, despite Canada's official, hollow promises to make things better? After a soul-searching Truth and Reconciliation process, the drinking water still hasn't improved, and Louise began to wonder whether inspiration had deserted her.
Then awâsis showed up—a trickster, teacher, healer, wheeler-dealer, shapeshifter, woman, man, nuisance, inspiration. A Holy Fool with their fly open, speaking Cree, awâsis came to Louise out of the ancient stories of her people, her Elders, from community input (through tears and laughter), from her own full heart and her three-dimensional dreams. Following awâsis's lead, Louise has flipped her blanket over, revealing a joking, mischievous, unapologetic alter ego—right on time.