Billy-Ray Belcourt

This Wound is a World

Griffin Poetry Prize 2018
Canadian Winner

Book: This Wound is a World

Poet: Billy-Ray Belcourt

Publisher: Frontenac House

Click here to read an excerpt.

Billy-Ray Belcourt

Biography

Billy-Ray Belcourt is from the Driftpile Cree Nation. He is a Ph.D. student at the University of Alberta, and a 2016 Rhodes Scholar who holds a M.St. in Women’s Studies from the University of Oxford. In 2016, he was named one of six Indigenous writers to watch by CBC Books, and was the winner of the 2016 P.K. Page Founder’s Award for Poetry. His work has been published in Assaraus: A Journal of Gay Poetry, Decolonization, Red Rising Magazine, mâmawai-âcimowak, SAD Mag, Yellow Medicine Review, The Malahat Review, PRISM International, and The Next Quarterly.

Judges’ Citation

“Blending the resources of love song and elegy, prayer and manifesto, Billy-Ray Belcourt’s This Wound is a World shows us poetry at its most intimate and politically necessary. Mindful of tangled lineages and the lingering erasures of settler colonialism, Belcourt crafts poems in which “history lays itself bare” – but only as bare as their speaker’s shapeshifting heart. Belcourt pursues original forms with which to chart the constellations of queerness and indigeneity, rebellion and survival, desire and embodiedness these poems so fearlessly explore. Between its bold treatment of sexuality and wary anatomy of despair, This Wound is a World peels back the layers of feeling and experience to offer, finally, the glimmerings of hope – which only sometimes looks like escape: “follow me out the backdoor of the world”. This electrifying book reminds us that a poem may live twin lives as incantation and inscription, singing from the untamed margins: “grieve is the name i give to myself / i carve it into the bed frame. / i am make-believe. / this is an archive. / it hurts to be a story.”

Everyone is Lonely

everyone is lonely
but no one knows
what to do about it.
once a week
i curate
obituaries
on my facebook wall
without even trying.
the wind
makes away
with parts of my body
but i don’t
notice the difference.
my mom
couldn’t get enough
of the sight
of broken twigs
and thus
i was born.
i am single
because i haven’t dated
anyone who is
broken twig enough.
he’s a little bit
country,
i’m a little bit
barbed-wire fence.

From This Wound is a World by Billy-Ray Belcourt
Copyright © 2017 by Billy-Ray Belcourt

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