In her second collection of poetry, Gwen Benaway examines what it means to experience violence and speaks to the burden of survival.

Gwen Benaway

In her second collection of poetry, Passage, Gwen Benaway examines what it means to experience violence and speaks to the burden of survival. Travelling to Northern Ontario and across the Great Lakes, Passage is a poetic voyage through divorce, family violence, legacy of colonization and the affirmation of a new sexuality and gender. 

Passage is the poet's first collection written as a transwoman. Striking and raw in sparse lines, the collection showcases a vital two-spirited identity that transects borders of race, gender and experience. In Passage, the poet seeks to reconcile herself to the land, the history of her ancestors and her separation from her partner and family by invoking the beauty and power of her ancestral waterways. Building on the legacy of other groundbreaking Indigenous poets like Gregory Scofield and queer poets like Tim Dlugos, Benaway's work is deeply personal and devastating in sharp, clear lines. Passage is a book burning with a beautiful intensity and reveals Benaway as one of the most powerful emerging poets writing in Indigenous poetics today. (From Kegedonce Press)

Read an excerpt | Author interviews

From the book


blue room, two windows —

one opened to the street,

the other to the yard.

at night I left them open

to hear the dogs bark,

trucks go by the house.

my sisters in the other room,

parents downstairs by the furnace,

their windows locked.

this is how I knew

my difference, even in sleep

I reached out

to dream of traffic

by water, the midnight haul

of life across the river.

From Passage by Gwen Benaway ©2016. Published by Kegedonce Press.

Author interviews

We find out how Gwen Benaway wrote her poetry collection "Passage." 2:58