The Next Chapter

Poetry is testimony for Latner Prize award winner Gregory Scofield

Indigenous poet Gregory Scofield is the latest winner of the $25,000 Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize. His latest poetry collection is called Witness, I Am.
Gregory Scofield's seventh book of poetry, Witness, I Am, deals with the critical issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women. (Gregory Scofield)

Gregory Scofield has been awarded the Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize, in recognition of his extraordinary body of work. The jury said, "From raw, urban truths to the solace of Cree cadence, from the heart beat of the drum to the wax poetics of a young Louis Riel, Scofield's range of subject, work and style dazzles."

Scofield's latest poetry collection is titled Witness, I Am. The book deals with themes of justice and reconciliation, exploring contemporary issues facing Indigenous communities in Canada. Here's a preview of Scofield's upcoming interview on The Next Chapterwhich will air on Nov. 7, 2016.

I always seem to start my collections of poetry with a title. I always begin with a title. The title becomes the lodge, the sacred lodge of where the poems are going to be. I'll have many visitors come to the lodge as I'm working on filling those sections. Witness, I Am really came about with this idea of where we're sitting at right now with the contemporary reality for Indigenous people. This work towards this idea of reconciliation, whether that's the Truth and Reconciliation Commission or whether it is works being done around missing and murdered Indigenous women. Really, Witness, I Am, is partially my own testimony as an Indigenous individual in this country. It's the testimony of my aunty who can't speak. It's the testimony of my mother who cannot speak. It's the testimony of generations of my family that were left voiceless. 

Gregory Scofield's comments have been edited and condensed.