Girl running

Shortlisted for a 2022 Indigenous Voices Award and two 2022 Saskatchewan Book Awards.

 

IN THIS STELLAR DEBUT COLLECTION, Girl running, by Métis poet Diana Hope Tegenkamp, disappearances, perpetual flights, river walks, shadowy descents and miraculous returns connect daily living and mortality, social realities and ancient histories, surfaces and subterranean depths. 

The narrative weaves between the present, with the poet caring for her mother in the palliative stages of her life, and the past, with a searching eye for the absent Métis father and the brutal effects of Canada’s colonial history. 

“A poignant journey of a mother’s life

And a daughter’s loss

Diana tells gentle stories about her mother

sings her beautiful songs

Mahka a’yimiho, a’yimiho

A’yimiho kah puktinaht 

A’iyimiho”

- Maria Campbell, award-winning author and filmmaker

 

“Girl running leads us through grief's secret landscapes— she sprints the mother field all the way across centuries home— where language breaks into wavelength, space collapses into generosity and ‘longing is no longer longing but something else.’”

- Jennifer Still, author of Girlwood and Comma, winner of the Landsdowne Prize for Poetry.

 

Poetry book. Published by Thistledown Press. 2021.

With thanks to the Saskatchewan Arts Board and the Canada Council for the Arts for assistance to write Girl running.

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This personal response to Girl running,

from Saskatchewan poet William Robertson, is shared here

with his kind permission. Thank you, Bill.

Diana:

 

I’ve just finished your lovely book Girl running. I like how many birds are in it. The line that really sums up the collection, or pair of lines, for me is in the poem “What I mean to say is,” and they are:

 

     I watched as she let a new language invent its passage,

     while also reviving an old language.”

 

To my mind, anyway, as you deal with your grief over your mother’s death, you watch as she invents the language of her passing, while reviving the language of her past and making sure you know the place she came from. You are part of a continuum. Also, I love the way that new language being invented is part of a world in which women’s voices, and the long-suppressed voices of the marginalized and unheard, are heard; are listened to. Like birds we didn’t pay attention to, stop, be quiet, and listen.

 

There’s so much here that, as it discovers your father and his background, questions and sidesteps white, male hegemony. You take that history by a “lady,” the long-accepted history by a woman who “fit” what was accepted by men at the time, and you run all that accepted history into an iceberg, one of the most famous examples of white, male hubris of all time.

 

Now that we’ve sunk that ship, let’s try acknowledging the beatings, of Métis boys and animals, of murdered and missing women and girls, here and on the Mexican desert, and invent a new way of doing things, from speaking, to writing, to putting the words on the page. Get out from under the Weight of Empires.

 

I also loved the lines:

     and the horizon, a wild beast,

     lengthens its stride”

 

and: 

 

     July’s dark brown forewing of commitment

     feathering our skin with ochre light”

 

and the beautiful poem “Clouds.”

 

A brave and lovely collection, Diana. I wouldn’t usually say this much to someone, but you asked me to tell you what I thought.

 

Best,

Bill

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