cover image The Stone Collection

The Stone Collection

Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm. Portage and Main/HighWater, $18.95 trade paper (150p) ISBN 978-1-55379-549-0

Akiwenzie-Damm's collection of 14 short stories is diamond-like in its brilliance. The writer, poet, spoken-word performer, librettist, and activist from the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation at Neyaashiinigmiing, Ont., has previously published two books of poetry and edited Skins: Contemporary Indigenous Writing, which won a Wordcraft Circle Award. Her luminescent prose in this book dances "like jingle dress dancers," and is somehow still compressed to shining perfection. The fiercely honest stories flit across Canada, visiting dinner and pit parties, the rez, Ottawa, Vancouver's Hastings Street , and stony beaches. They are suffused with humor, love, anger, laughter, blood, family, joy, grief, earth, ocean, and stars. Akiwenzie-Damm beautifully portrays life's struggles and connections: the everyday, such as two people "coming together... like glancing up and seeing a sky filled with falling stars" after a long acquaintance; the specific, such as the threat that walking alone at night carries for aboriginal women; and the supernatural, as in a young man's conversation with his long dead grandfather. Stones remember stories and love gives characters wings. Readers who collect Akiwenzie-Damm's stones will not be over-burdened by the weight of them, but will find instead that they are flying alongside the characters. (Nov.)