How She Read
How She Read is a collection of genre-blurring poems about the representation of black women, their hearts, minds and bodies, across the Canadian cultural imagination. Drawing from grade-school vocabulary spellers, literature, history, art, media and pop culture, Chantal Gibson's sassy semiotics highlight the depth and duration of the imperialist ideas embedded in everyday things, from storybooks to coloured pencils, from paintings to postage stamps.
A mediation on motherhood and daughterhood, belonging, loss and recovery, the collection weaves the voices of black women, past and present. As Gibson dismantles the grammar of her Queen Elizabeth English, sister scholars talk back, whisper, suck teeth, curse and carry on from canonized texts, photographs and art gallery walls, reinterpreting their image, re-reading their bodies and claiming their space in a white, hegemonic landscape. Using genre-bending dialogue poems and ekphrasis, Gibson reveals the dehumanizing effects of mystifying and simplifying images of blackness. Undoing the North Star freedom myth, Harriet Tubman and Viola Desmond shed light on the effects of erasure in the time of reconciliation and the dangers of squeezing the past into a Canada History Minute or a single postage stamp.
Thoughtful, sassy, reflective and irreverent, How She Read leaves a black mark on the landscape as it illustrates a writer's journey from passive receiver of racist ideology to active cultural critic in the process of decolonizing her mind (From Caitlin Press)
How She Read was a finalist for the 2019 Griffin Poetry Prize.
Chantal Gibson is a artist, poet and educator from Vancouver. With ancestral roots in Nova Scotia, Gibson's literary approach is dedicated to challenging imperialist ideas by way of a close look at Canadian literature, history, art, media and pop culture.
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