Winner of the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry
Finalist for the 2019 Trillium Book Award for Poetry
Finalist for the 2019 Lambda Literary Awards – Transgender Poetry Category
Finalist for the 2019 Publishing Triangle Awards – Trans and Gender-Variant Literature Category
Longlisted for the 2019 Pat Lowther Memorial Award
In her third collection of poetry, Holy Wild, Gwen Benaway explores the complexities of being an Indigenous trans women in expansive lyric poems. She holds up the Indigenous trans body as a site of struggle, liberation, and beauty. A confessional poet, Benaway narrates her sexual and romantic intimacies with partners as well as her work to navigate the daily burden of transphobia and violence. She examines the intersections of Indigenous and trans experience through autobiographical poems and continues to speak to the legacy of abuse, violence, and colonial erasure that defines Canada. Her sparse lines, interwoven with English and Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe), illustrate the wonder and power of Indigenous trans womanhood in motion. Holy Wild is not an easy book, as Benaway refuses to give any simple answers, but it is a profoundly vibrant and beautiful work filled with a transcendent grace.
Praise for Holy Wild:
"This is a heart wrenching, thought provoking, honest, and graceful walkthrough of trans realities both on the homeland and in urban settings." —Joshua Whitehead, author of Jonny Appleseed, longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and Full-Metal Indigiqueer
"As the poet says, "they want one thing and I am many." This book is many things, and we are grateful." —Katherena Vermette, author of the award-winning novel The Break
"Benaway conjures trans life in a place that is both prior to and in excess of the violence that mires it. It is the emotional infrastructure for something like freedom. Let Benaway lead you there." —Billy-Ray Belcourt, author of This Wound is a World
Gwen Benaway is of Anishinaabe and Métis descent. She has published two collections of poetry, Ceremonies for the Dead and Passage. A Two-Spirited Trans poet, she has been described as the spiritual love child of Tomson Highway and Anne Sexton. She has received many distinctions and awards, including the Dayne Ogilvie Honour of Distinction for Emerging Queer Authors from the Writer's Trust of Canada. Her poetry and essays have been published in national publications and anthologies, including The Globe and Mail, Maclean's Magazine, CBC Arts, and many others. She was born in Wingham, Ontario and currently resides in Toronto, Ontario.