Translated by Kristen Renee Miller
Spawn is a braided collection of brief, untitled poems, a coming-of-age lyric set in the Mashteuiatsh Reserve on the shores of Lake Piekuakami (Saint-Jean) in Quebec. Undeniably political, Marie-Andrée Gill’s poems ask how one can reclaim a narrative that has been confiscated and distorted by colonizers.
The poet’s young avatar reaches new levels on Nintendo, stays up too late online, wakes to her period on class photo day, and carves her lovers’ names into every surface imaginable. Encompassing twenty-first-century imperialism, coercive assimilation, and nineties-kid culture, Spawn is threaded with the speaker’s desires, her searching: for fresh water to “takes the edge off,” for a “habitable word,” for sex. For her true north—her voice and her identity.
Like the life cycle of the ouananiche that frames this collection, the speaker’s journey is cyclical; immersed in teenage moments of confusion and life on the reserve, she retraces her scars to let in what light she can, and perhaps in the end discover what to make of herself.