Settler Education

Laurie D. Graham

Settler Education

In the stunning poems of Settler Education, Laurie D. Graham vividly explores the Plains Cree uprising at Frog Lake - the death of nine settlers, the hanging of six Cree warriors, the imprisonment of Big Bear and the opening of the Prairies to unfettered settlement. In ways possible only with such an honest act of imagination, and with language at once terse and capacious, Settler Education reckons with how these pasts repeat and reconstitute themselves in the present.

Laurie Graham was a finalist for the 2014 CBC Poetry Prize.

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Excerpt:

Woodland Country

Little connection but to the hills, the low cows, the saskatoons, the story,

its refrains opening each interpretive sign, skidding over land I don't belong on

without permission. Every step a camera, a mouth, communion of saskatoons thick

beyond the barbed wire. Scared. An old man, scared maybe he's watching,

maybe I'm already stepping out of line, there's a circle of blue sky over us, and later I'll eat

cherries at Frenchman Butte and peer into the rifle pits. Who was it that came into my dream

last night? Raw leather around the forehead and the arms, telling me something I can't remember

now, that belonged to sleep, hands moving as he spoke, his eyes, telling a lost story,

telling a lost person a story. And then a dead crow between subdivision fences,

on the white line of the through-road home, its mate trying to go to the body and getting

turned back to the grass by each car passing. And I'm supposed to claim I've met the land,

that I know where the limits are placed.


From Settler Education by Laurie Graham ©2016. Published by Penguin Canada.