We join forces with two amazing Indigenous writers and scholars who are making waves in the literary scene with their poetry, prose, and fiction. They weave words and worlds to help us see and understand queer indigenous identities and bodies, the ways that settler colonialism has disrupted and distorted our relationships, and the power of asserting voice in spaces not meant for us. We discuss their writing practice, academia, living in racialized bodies. We close with Joshua and Billy reciting some of their work for us. Enjoy!
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Joshua Whitehead is Ojibwe & Cree from the Peguis First Nation, located in Treaty 1 territory, and is Two Spirit IndigiQueer. You can find him at the University of Calgary in Treaty 7 territory, obtaining his PhD in English. Joshua is a poet and a writer, but most importantly, Joshua is a storyteller. The power of his storytelling launched him into the forefront of the literary scene. His poetry collection, “Full Metal Indigequeer” is indeed, as he says, “a viral song, is a round dance, is a jingle dress, is medicine.” His debut novel, Johnny Appleseed, braids together human experience into a tight understanding of Indigeneity and queerness.
Billy-Ray Belcourt is from the Driftpile Cree Nation and is a PhD student in the Department of English & Film Studies at the University of Alberta. As a Rhodes Scholar, Billy-Ray went to the Colonizers land to obtain his Master’s in Women’s Studies which highlighted “the role of Indigenous Women in Social Resistance Movements .” His work has been widely published and acclaimed in magazines across Canada. His debut poetry book, This Wound is A World, splits the self wide open and merges into space and place and Indian Time. His forthcoming work, NDN Coping Mechanisms, Notes from the field, is synesthesia made into polyphonic poetry, prose and digital art.