Jordan Abel uses poetry to reclaim painful slur

The British Columbia writer and poet is up for the Griffin Poetry Prize this year for his project that looks into a word that has been very hurtful to Indigenous communities.
Poet Jordan Abel in the q studios in Toronto, Ont. (Vanessa Nigro/CBC)

If you're a poet or a poetry lover, the Griffin Poetry Prize is definitely an award that's on your radar. Every year, one Canadian and one international poet win $65,000 each. Meanwhile, finalists who make the shortlist get $10,000. 

Here at q, we wanted to highlight the three Canadians on this year's Griffin Prize shortlist. Tune in today to hear more about Jordan Abel, a Nisga'a writer and poet from British Columbia. His latest collection is about a word that is very hurtful to Indigenous communities: "Injun," the pejorative short-hand term for "Indian." 

In his book, Abel uses poetry to examine how the word has been used. He searched for the word in early western novels available through public domain. Then, he copied paragraphs with the word into one big file and rearranged them. The result is one long poem and a fascinating project. 

For more information about the Griffin Poetry Prize, head over to their website


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