Episode 5 Reading for Decolonization

We’ve finally got some new content – episode 5 can be heard here!

In this episode we explore reading Indigenous literature in Canada/Turtle Island as settlers and what it can mean to read towards decolonizing ourselves and the land. Books we discuss here are The Break by Katherena Vermette, Birdie by Tracey Lindberg, and A Geography of Blood by Candace Savage. It’s a bit of a change to include a piece of non-fiction in the mix, but we think it helps as we work through our responsibilities as settlers and treaty people as they relate to the practice of sharing stories.

For an even deeper dive, take a look at this amazing interview between Black Canadian author Dionne Brand and Nishnaabeg author Leanne Betasamosake Simpson on Indigenous creativity and the need for a decolonial lens to CanLit.

We’re just starting on this journey, and there are lots of other voices and stories to listen to and tell.  Here’s our working list of other Indigenous authors we’ve read/want to read more of: Leanne Simpson, Thompson Highway, Thomas King, Lee Maracle, Cherie Dimaline, Carleigh Baker, Teresa Marie Mailhot, Richard Wagamese, Rosanna Deerchild.

Help us add to this list with suggestions in comments.

Racism and Colonialism in CanLit – an opening post

Important discussions have been emerging recently about the pervasiveness of racism and colonialism in the mainstream Canadian Literature and publishing scene (also known as CanLit).  Calls from Indigenous and Black writers to provide more support and opportunities for publishing, alongside challenging the myths of what CanLit is, and its elitist and exclusivist histories are out there, and need to be read, absorbed, and put into action.

I think we’ll be saying more about this in the future, but for now our words are not as powerful and clear as those of Jully Black from her own experience as a panelist on Canada Reads.

Grim-Dark storytelling and the problem with cynicism in Black Mirror

A caveat to start: I’ve only watched one full episode of Black Mirror.  Take that for what it is.  But, the episode I watched felt so deeply wrong, so much like really terrible good television that I have to say something about it.  It was well shot, well acted, with a script crafted to tell multiple, unconnected, character stories and arcs in the short space of fifty minutes. In short, it was what good television should be.  But it was terrible.

Continue reading

Alicia Elliott On Seeing and Being Seen

“If you can’t write about us with a love for who we are as a people, what we’ve survived, what we’ve accomplished despite all attempts to keep us from doing so; if you can’t look at us as we are and feel your pupils go wide, making all stereotypes feel like a sham, a poor copy, a disgrace—then why are you writing about us at all?”

On Seeing and Being Seen: The Difference Between Writing With Empathy and Writing With Love

Welcome to Liberating Libraries

Welcome to Liberating Libraries, a podcast project presented by the Conspiracy of Equality. In this show, we talk about the fiction we’re reading and how it is informing, poking at, inspiring, or enabling our social justice work. We don’t delve deep ‘into the text’, but we use the work of our faves (like Octavia Butler, Marlon James, Zadie Smith, Ursula le Guinn, Isabelle Allende…) to work through ideas and imagine the worlds that could be.

This is an amateur effort: the goal is to get us thinking about fiction and the role it can play in building better futures. Often on the left there is a divide between writing that is analytical (and considered valuable to movements) and writing that is narrative or poetic (and considered less valuable). We want to break that divide, to encourage fellow leftists to read fiction not only for pleasure, but also as a source of inspiration and empathy. We want to celebrate the fiction that liberates us, even when it is complicated, and we want to participate in the liberation of creativity.

We’re not professional editors or critics, just people with ideas and a moderately good sense of how to articulate some of them.