Saturday, January 31, 2015

Leanne Simpson

Fragmentary in structure and written without the standard capital letter at the start of sentences, Islands of Decolonial Love (ARP, 2013) is what it proclaims to be in its title. Some of the pieces present as short stories, some present as poems. There is an audio component, which can be found at the publisher's website.

The pieces frequently make use of Indigenous words, which are translated in footnotes. The overall experience is one of entering the colonial space that is being deconstructed by storytelling, or maybe just call it the reality of Indigenous Canada.

"right off the bat," begins the story *buffalo on*, "let's just admit we're both from places that have been fucked up through no fault of our own in a thousand different ways for seven different generations and that takes a toll on how we treat each other. it just does."

Many of the pieces are as short as a couple of pages, some a bit longer, but not much. Love and the search of intimacy between people is a frequent concern. Though (obviously) written, many of the pieces are examples of oral storytelling, and include a diversity of voices presented on the page.

There is much complication here, much intensity, even in the relative simplicity of the pieces themselves. The focus is not just interpersonal, it is, as the quotation above suggests, the legacy of the past on the present and pressures on people to live well, thrive, and sustain communities and places.

Hooray, Leanne Simpson. Check out her other work!


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