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NDN Coping Mechanisms
NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field | Billy-Ray Belcourt
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In the follow-up to his Griffin Poetry Prizewinning collection, This Wound is a World, Billy-Ray Belcourt writes using the modes of accusation and interrogation. He aims an anthropological eye at the realities of everyday life to show how they house the violence that continues to reverberate from the long twentieth century. In a genre-bending constellation of poetry, photography, redaction, and poetics, Belcourt ultimately argues that if signifiers of Indigenous suffering are everywhere, so too is evidence of Indigenous peoples rogue possibility, their utopian drive. In NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field, the poet takes on the political demands of queerness, mainstream portrayals of Indigenous life, love and its discontents, and the limits and uses of poetry as a vehicle for Indigenous liberation. In the process, Belcourt once again demonstrates his extraordinary craft, guile, and audacity, and the sheer dexterity of his imagination.
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I wrote a poem to resemble a forest floor teeming with decaying vegetation.
A struggling thing isn‘t a struggling thing
if everything else is in a state of rot.
Nothing can be turned inside out if “inside” and “out”
are free-floating concepts in a world without direction.
No one wants to be a free-floating concept
unless emptiness is a harrowing feat.

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A segment of Belcourt‘s blackout poem created from the contents of Treaty 8.

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“In late 1823, Hugh Glass guides Andrew Henry‘s
trappers through unorganized territory.”
white people see what they want.
Had this been a movie made by NDNs
that bear would have killed
Leonardo DiCaprio in the first 10 minutes
& for the next 2 hours & 26 minutes
(because this movie runs 2 hours & 36 minutes)
there would have been no footage
just the sounds of NDNs
organizing territory.
Whatever the fuck that means!

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My hobbies include:
not dying,
obsessively apologizing to the moon for all that she
has to witness,
and slow dancing to the tune of “Heaven” by Bryan
Adams with men
who will refuse to give in to the life-changing magic
of vulnerability.

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