Governor General’s Award–winning Métis poet and acclaimed novelist Katherena Vermette’s second collection, river woman, explores her relationship to nature — its destructive power and beauty, its timelessness, and its place in human history.
Award-winning Métis poet and novelist Katherena Vermette’s second book of poetry, river woman, examines and celebrates love as decolonial action. Here love is defined as a force of reclamation and repair in times of trauma, and trauma is understood to exist within all times. The poems are grounded in what feels like an eternal present, documenting moments of clarity that lift the speaker (and reader) out of the illusion of linear experience. This is what we mean when we describe a work of art as being timeless.
Like the river they speak to, these poems return again and again to the same source in search of new ways to reconstruct what has been lost. Vermette suggests that it’s through language and the body ― particularly through language as it lives inside the body ― that a fragmented self might resurface as once again whole. This idea of breaking apart and coming back together is woven throughout the collection as the speaker contemplates the ongoing negotiation between the city, the land, and the water, and as she finds herself falling into trust with the ones she loves.
Vermette honours the river as a woman ― her destructive power and beauty, her endurance, and her stories. These poems sing from a place where “words / transcend ceremony / into everyday” and “nothing / is inanimate.”