Books

'Read, read, read.' The advice Louise Bernice Halfe would give to her younger self

Louise Bernice Halfe is the 2017 winner of the $25,000 Latner's Writers' Trust Poetry Prize.
Louise Bernice Halfe is the 2017 recipient of the Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize.

Louise Bernice Halfe is a Cree poet from Two Hills, Alta. A survivor of the residential school system, she often draws on her childhood experiences for her writing. Louise Bernice Halfe is the 2017 winner of the $25,000 Latner's Writers' Trust Poetry Prize, which awards $25,000 to a writer with an exceptional body of work in the field of poetry. Her most recent collection is Burning in this Midnight Dream.

CBC Books caught up with Halfe to speak about the advice she would give her young self and what we can expect next from her.  

What would you tell your younger self?

"I would tell my younger self: Louise have courage, persevere and take risks. Read, read, read and make the dictionary and your thesaurus your bibles. Talk to the Great Mystery as if this the last day of your life. Keep a journal and have faith."

What book would you recommend to aspiring writers?

"I would encourage aspiring writers to read The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck. It absolutely changed my life when I implemented what I had learned through action and writing."

What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

"I was told that Bear Bones and Feathers may be the only book I'd ever write — I saw this as a challenge to prove them wrong! It may have become a reality if I hadn't persevered and believed I had something important to say about aboriginal history. Sylvia Vance, co-editor of the anthology Women Writing the Circle: Native Women of Western Canada, my English prof, Ron Marken, and my Elders all believed I had the gift of voice and writing. Their encouragement gave me the confidence to keep forging."

What's next for you?

"I am exploring humour in my writing. In reality I am happy and content but my writing keeps drawing me into darkness and it pisses me off. And I am terribly slow."

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