Canisia Lubrin and Jessica Johns
Oxygen Art Centre welcomes Canisia Lubrin and Jessica Johns for the Author Reading Series.
Acclaimed poet, editor and writer Canisia Lubrin’s work explore ideas of social justice and the limits and possibilities of art, form, and language. Polyvocal in register, Lubrin’s second book, The Dyzgraphxst (M & S, 2020) mines meanings of kinship through the wide and intimate reach of language across geographies and generations. Against the contemporary backdrop of intensified capitalist fascism, toxic nationalism, and climate disaster, the figure Jejune asks, how have I come to make home out of unrecognizability. Marked by and through diasporic life, Jejune declares, I was not myself. I am not myself. My self resembles something having nothing to do with me.
The Dyzgraphxst (M & S, 2020) won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Poetry and the overall Literature prize, the Griffin Poetry Prize, and the Derek Walcott Prize. That same year, she was awarded the Canada Council’s Joseph S. Stauffer prize for literary achievement and the Windham-Campbell prize for a body of work. Among other honours, her writing was finalist for the Governor General’s Award, the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and Trillium Book Award for Poetry.
Accompanying Lubrin is writer, editor and nehiyaw auntie, Jessica Johns with her debut novel, Bad Cree (Harper-Collins, 2023), where dreams, family and spirits collide. Bad Cree (Harper-Collins, 2023) follows Mackenzie, a Cree millennial, when she wakes up in her one-bedroom Vancouver apartment clutching a pine bough she had been holding in her dream just moments earlier. When she blinks, it disappears. But she can still smell the sharp pine scent in the air, the nearest pine tree a thousand kilometres away in the far reaches of Treaty 8.
Mackenzie continues to accidentally bring back items from her dreams, dreams that are eerily similar to real memories of her older sister and Kokum before their untimely deaths. As Mackenzie’s life spirals into a living nightmare – crows are following her around and she’s getting texts from her dead sister on the other side – it becomes clear that these dreams have terrifying, real-life consequences. Desperate for help, Mackenzie returns to her mother, sister, cousin, and aunties in her small Alberta hometown. Together, they try to uncover what is haunting Mackenzie before something irrevocable happens to anyone else around her. Haunting, fierce, an ode to female relations and the strength found in kinship, Bad Cree is a gripping, arresting debut by an unforgettable voice.
The evening will also feature a reading by student writer from the Selkirk College Creative Writing Program. Join us on Wednesday, April 5, 4 pm on Zoom to participate in the second instalment of the Author Reading Series featuring Canisia Lubrin and Jessica Johns. Admission is free or by donation. Register via EventBrite to attend.
Oxygen Art Centre