Spawn is a braided collection of brief, untitled poems, a coming-of-age lyric set in the Mashteuiatsh Reserve on the shores of Lake Piekuakami (Saint-Jean) in Quebec. Undeniably political, Marie-Andrée Gill’s poems ask how one can reclaim a narrative that has been confiscated and distorted by colonizers.
The poet’s young avatar reaches new levels on Nintendo, stays up too late online, wakes to her period on class photo day, and carves her lovers’ names into every surface imaginable. Encompassing twenty-first-century imperialism, coercive assimilation, and nineties-kid culture, Spawn is threaded with the speaker’s desires, her searching: for fresh water to “takes the edge off,” for a “habitable word,” for sex. For her true north—her voice and her identity.
Like the life cycle of the ouananiche that frames this collection, the speaker’s journey is cyclical; immersed in teenage moments of confusion and life on the reserve, she retraces her scars to let in what light she can, and perhaps in the end discover what to make of herself.
Marie-Andrée Gill is Pekuakamishkueu and identifies primarily as a poet. Mother, friend, lover, student, her research and creative work concern transpersonal and decolonial love. Bridging kitsch and existentialism, her writing is rooted in territory and interiority, combining her Quebec and Ilnu identities. She is the author of three books from La Peuplade: Béante, Frayer, and Chauffer le dehors. In 2018 she was the winner of an Indigenous Voices Award. She lives in L’Anse-Saint-Jean, Quebec.
Kristen Renee Miller
Kristen Renee Miller’s poems and translations appear in POETRY, The Kenyon Review, Guernica, The Offing, and Best New Poets 2018. A recipient of fellowships from The Kentucky Arts Council, Vermont Studio Center, Blackacre Conservancy, and the Kentucky Foundation for Women, she lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where she is the Managing Editor at Sarabande Books.