The Chat With Chelene Knight

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Canada, Interviews, Media Archive on 2018-05-20 00:59Z by Steven

The Chat With Chelene Knight

49th Shelf
2018-05-09

Trevor Corkum

dearcurrentoccupant

Chelene Knight’s debut memoir Dear Current Occupant (Bookt*ug) takes a closer look at childhood trauma and the uncertain idea of home. It’s a haunting, experimental, and deeply moving book which follows the author as she returns to many of the apartments she lived in as a young girl.

The Toronto Star calls Knight “one of the storytellers we need most right now” and calls the writing in Dear Current Occupant “lush, lyrical…mesmerizing.”

Chelene Knight was born in Vancouver, and is currently the Managing Editor of Room Magazine. A graduate of The Writers’ Studio at SFU, Chelene has been published in various Canadian and American literary magazines. Her debut book, Braided Skin, was published in 2015. Dear Current Occupant is her second book. Chelene is also working on a historical novel set in the 1930s and 40s in Vancouver’s Hogan’s Alley.

Trevor Corkum: Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind Dear Current Occupant?

Chelene Knight: While I was writing my first book, Braided Skin (Mother Tongue Publishing 2015), I felt that there was an unfinished thread. Something wasn’t complete. I actually started working on Dear Current Occupant in 2013, but quickly tucked it away because the realization that I was not ready to re-experience everything was quite apparent. I was not ready to write these stories.
When it comes to childhood and trauma, there’s a certain amount of healing that needs to occur, you have to distance yourself a bit, step back from the table. Every day on my way to work I’d pass ride the Sky Train and just before the train pulled into Broadway Station, I’d get this twinge as I passed one of the buildings I used to live in as a young girl. Then I’d pass another, and another, and another and the same twinges poked and prodded under my skin. Then I knew I was ready to start the work, to put the pieces together.

I stood out front of as many of the houses as I could remember and I just wrote. It was winter and I was cold. I didn’t have gloves on and the snow was coming down, but I couldn’t stop. Memories and fragments came back like lightening. There was something about being there in the space. Even though I was outside those walls I knew so well, I will still there, back in time. I had no idea the effect this book would have on people. I have received nothing but stories of change, emails, tweets, messages, and posts about how this book changed them.

And at the end of the day isn’t that what a book is supposed to do? Change the reader…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , , ,

Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Posted in Books, Canada, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2018-05-20 00:36Z by Steven

Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
June 2019
295 pages
ISBN13: 978-1-77112-240-5

Michelle La Flamme, Professor of English
University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada

Canada’s history is bicultural, Indigenous, and multilingual, and these characteristics have given risen to a number of strategies used by our writers to code racially mixed characters. This book examines contemporary Canadian literature and drama in order to tease out some of those strategies and the social and cultural factors that inform them.

Racially hybrid characters in literature have served a matrix of needs. They are used as shorthand for interracial desire, signifiers of taboo love, images of impurity, symbols of degeneration, and examples of beauty and genetic perfection. Their fates have been used to suggest the futility of marrying across racial lines, or the revelation of their “one drop” signals a climactic downfall. Other narratives suggest mixed-race bodies are foundational to colonization and signify contact between colonial and Indigenous bodies.

Author Michelle LaFlamme approaches racial hybridity with a cross-generic and cross-racial approach, unusual in the field of hybridity studies, by analyzing characters with different racial mixes in autobiographies, fiction, and drama. Her analysis privileges literary texts and the voices of artists rather than sociological explanations of the mixed-race experience. The book suggests that the hyper-visualization of mixed-race bodies in mono-racial contexts creates a scopophilic interest in how those bodies look and perform race.

La Flamme’s term “soma text” draws attention to the constructed, performative aspects of this form of embodiment. The writers she examines witness that living in a racially hybrid and ambiguous body is a complex engagement that involves reading and decoding the body in sophisticated ways, involving both the multiracial body and the racialized gaze of the onlooker.

Tags: ,

Why Chelene Knight wrote letters to the current occupants of the houses she lived in growing up

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Canada, Interviews on 2018-05-10 19:41Z by Steven

Why Chelene Knight wrote letters to the current occupants of the houses she lived in growing up

CBC Books
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
2018-03-06

Ryan B. Patrick, Associate Producer


Chelene Knight is an author based in Vancouver. (Chelene Knight/BookThug)

Chelene Knight is a Vancouver-based writer and editor. Of Black and East Indian heritage, Knight’s Dear Current Occupant mixes poetry and prose to tell a story about home and belonging, set in the 1980s and 1990s of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

The book plays with genre by way of a series of letters addressed to the current occupants now living in the 20 different houses she moved in and out of with her mother and brother. Knight tells CBC Books how she wrote Dear Current Occupant.

A bus ride beginning

“The first draft was originally all poetry, but my publisher suggested I rewrite it as creative nonfiction. I tried to write this book in generic memoir form. I sat down wanting to write about some of my childhood experiences. But it couldn’t come out. I thought maybe it’s not the right time.

“Then I was on the bus one snowy day and I passed by one of the houses that I lived in as a child and something sparked in me. I got off the bus and I stood in front of this house. I had a notebook with me and I started scribbling. The memories were coming back to me — flooding in — and it was this visceral thing where I needed to be in that place and then be transported back to those times.”…

…Writing for others

“We always hear people say there are no Black people in Vancouver, but there are. I identify as a Black woman. I know there was a larger Black community in Vancouver many years ago, but people have been displaced. I definitely want to reach people who not only are of mixed ethnicity but who also identify as Black.

“I’m writing this for the community that I wish were here now. So whether you are Black, of mixed race or can identify with the trauma parts of the book, I think there are different layers in the work where you can see something different every time. That’s what I like with the hybrid form, of poetry and prose.”

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Joseph Boyden Won’t Find Indigenous Identity In A Test Tube Of Spit

Posted in Articles, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2018-05-10 19:15Z by Steven

Joseph Boyden Won’t Find Indigenous Identity In A Test Tube Of Spit

Canadaland
2017-08-04

Robert Jago


photo by Bryan McBurney

To be First Nations, you must first belong to a nation.

In anticipation of a fall book tour for his new novel, Seven Matches, Joseph Boyden is back in the pages of Maclean’s magazine with an article restating his claim of First Nations ancestry, and anchoring that in the results of a DNA test.

Boyden’s ancestry first came into question late last year when I, along with APTN and a number of other Indigenous activists, questioned Boyden’s right to speak on our behalf. We looked at his shifting claims of ancestry — covered here on CANADALAND — and his misuse of basic First Nations concepts like being “two-spirit,” and we presented the questions to the public for them to decide.

Broadly speaking — though with many notable exceptions — Indigenous people on social media took the position that he was not Indigenous. And broadly speaking, non-Natives, especially those in the media, claimed that he was, and that we had no right as Indigenous people to determine who belonged to our communities…

In his 4,000-word Maclean’s piece, “My name is Joseph Boyden,” Boyden presents several cases for his First Nations bona fides. The article is presented as being addressed to Indigenous critics — but the enthusiastic support of a dwindling number of media figures, like “Appropriation Prize” ring-leader Ken Whyte, perhaps reveals the real intended audience: white Canadians looking for an excuse to turn the page on this controversy and take Boyden back as the leading voice of Indigenous Canada

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Museum buys 1882 painting by African-American artist who worked in Victoria

Posted in Articles, Arts, Canada, Media Archive on 2018-05-10 17:36Z by Steven

Museum buys 1882 painting by African-American artist who worked in Victoria

The Times Colonist
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
2018-04-24

Louise Dickson


Giant’s Castle Mountain: A.L. Fortune Farm, Enderby B.C. Oct. 6, 1882, painted by Grafton Tyler Brown while he was living in Victoria.
Photograph By via Royal B.C. Museum

The Royal B.C. Museum has purchased an major landscape painting by 19th-century African-American artist Grafton Tyler Brown.

The painting — Giant’s Castle Mountain: A.L. Fortune Farm, Enderby B.C. Oct. 6, 1882 — is considered by University of Victoria history professor John Lutz to be the most important of Brown’s B.C. paintings. The painting, bought for $44,000 from Uno Langmann Fine Art Ltd. in March, shows Alexander Leslie Fortune’s farmstead on the edge of a forest. The agrarian foreground is dwarfed by a looming mountain.

The Royal B.C. Museum holds the greatest number and most significant of Brown’s Canadian works. Giant’s Castle Mountain is considered to be a work of artistic and historical significance to British Columbians. It was painted in Victoria after Brown visited the southern Interior…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Dear Current Occupant: A Memoir

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Canada, Monographs on 2018-05-10 16:50Z by Steven

Dear Current Occupant: A Memoir

BookThug
2018-04-01
132 pages
5 x 1 x 8 inches
Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1771663908

Chelene Knight

From Vancouver-based writer Chelene Knight, Dear Current Occupant is a creative nonfiction memoir about home and belonging set in the 80s and 90s of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Using a variety of forms including letters, essays and poems, Knight reflects on her childhood through a series of letters addressed to all of the current occupants now living in the twenty different houses she moved in and out of with her mother and brother. From blurry and fragmented non-chronological memories of trying to fit in with her own family as the only mixed East Indian/Black child, to crystal clear recollections of parental drug use, Knight draws a vivid portrait of memory that still longs for a place and a home.

Peering through windows and doors into intimate, remembered spaces now occupied by strangers, Knight writes to them in order to deconstruct her own past. From the rubble of memory she then builds a real place in order to bring herself back home.

Tags: , , , ,

My name is Joseph Boyden

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2018-05-10 14:55Z by Steven

My name is Joseph Boyden

Maclean’s
2017-08-02

Joseph Boyden

Joseph Boyden (Photograph by Jacob C Boynton)
Joseph Boyden (Photograph by Jacob C Boynton)

Being Indigenous isn’t all about DNA. It’s about who you claim, and who claims you.

My name is Joseph Boyden. Late last December I had a hard time wrapping my head around what a Cree Elder I’ve known and respected for 25 years told me when we spoke about the firestorm that questions concerning my ancestry had sparked in Canada over the holidays. This elder told me that I was experiencing a rite of passage. I wanted to tell him that I’d not long ago turned 50, and weren’t rites of passage something geared more toward the teenage years? But I knew to listen and not interrupt. He told me that what I was experiencing was actually a gift.

A gift? People I did and didn’t know were questioning my family’s history, our creation stories, our ancestry. People were questioning me as a fiction writer and a journalist and a vocal activist for Indigenous rights in our country as an honorary witness of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Now, from these months of hindsight, I understand it was the perfect storm brewing. Last October I’d spoken up publicly to demand accountability by a university and its conduct in the treatment of a friend—and the complainants— embroiled in an ugly and horribly mishandled controversy that ended up sending shockwaves beyond literary Canada…

Read the entire article here.

Tags:

‘A dirty deed’: Fort McMurray Métis demand apology after historic eviction of an Indigenous settlement

Posted in Articles, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, Videos on 2018-05-02 15:29Z by Steven

‘A dirty deed’: Fort McMurray Métis demand apology after historic eviction of an Indigenous settlement

CBC News
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
2018-04-25

David Thurton, Mobile Journalist
Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada

Moccasin Flats is the unresolved story of how at least 12 Indigenous families were evicted or relocated from a Fort McMurray riverside community in the late 1970s to make way for a city expanding feverishly to accommodate oilsands growth.

That history still pains Fort McMurray Métis president Gail Gallupe.

“It was really a dirty deed,” Gallupe said. “To be ignored and to be treated so shabbily in those days. There was so much discrimination and so much racism.”

On Monday, the Fort McMurray Métis local announced it will commission an academic study that aims to clarify details of the contentious removal of the predominantly Métis settlement for oilsands development…

Read the story here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Bedside Books: How Half-Breed by Maria Campbell connected musician Nick Ferrio to his grandmother

Posted in Arts, Audio, Autobiography, Canada, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2018-04-25 23:50Z by Steven

Bedside Books: How Half-Breed by Maria Campbell connected musician Nick Ferrio to his grandmother

CBC Radio
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
2018-04-16


Musician Nick Ferrio examines Maria Campbell’s autobiography, Half-Breed, and its depiction of race issues in Canada. (Jeff Bierk/Goodread Biography)

Musician Nick Ferrio is based in Peterborough, Ont., but his roots are in Saskatchewan. He recently read Maria Campbell’s memoir Half-Breed and its account of an Indigenous woman’s encounters with racism, and the book resonated with him, thanks to his own Cree ancestry.

Ferrio’s album Soothsayer also mixes several influences to create a personal style and sound.

Mapping internal conflict

“I think every Canadian should read Half-Breed. It’s an incredible story of a mixed woman whose ancestry is part Cree. She explains the racism she faced in Canada. It resonated with me as my paternal grandmother is Cree. Because of the Indian Act, her family was forced to leave the reserve. When she moved to Toronto, she had internal racism. She was ashamed of her identity. She passed as white, so she blended into white culture in Toronto. That’s a dark thing.”..

Listen to the story here. Read the story here.

Tags: , , , , ,

‘You Don’t Look Black’: How I’m Talking to My Kids About Being Mixed Race

Posted in Articles, Canada, Family/Parenting, Media Archive on 2018-04-22 20:48Z by Steven

‘You Don’t Look Black’: How I’m Talking to My Kids About Being Mixed Race

CBC Parents
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
2018-03-15

Kara Stewart-Agostino


Photo by @criene/Twenty20

“Mama, am I black or white?” This was the question I received one night before bed when my son was in grade 1. A boy in his class had been called the N-word at school and he was full of questions.

He wanted to know what it meant and if someone could call him that. Some of the kids had insisted that he is black because (to their eyes) I am black. Others insisted that he’s not because he doesn’t “look black.”

Although the kids on the school yard perceive me as black, I am the child of a Jamaican born mother and a Scottish/Irish-Canadian born father who met in Winnipeg in the 1970s. As a mixed child, questions of racial identity are not new to me. I think of my kids as second generation mixed Canadians — the cultures of their grandparents are layered and entwined. Their skin is fair enough that they could “pass as white” but both have a head full of curls and tan to a golden brown in the summer sun. Meanwhile their Italian-Canadian born father will burn on a partly cloudy June day…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,