NDN Coping Mechanisms

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UPC: 9781487005771
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Author: Billy-Ray Belcourt
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: House of Anansi Press (September 3, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1487005776
  • ISBN-13: 978-1487005771
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 7.8 inches

In the follow-up to his Griffin Poetry Prize–winning collection, This Wound is a World, Billy-Ray Belcourt writes using the modes of accusation and interrogation. He aims an anthropological eye at the realities of everyday life to show how they house the violence that continues to reverberate from the long twentieth century. In a genre-bending constellation of poetry, photography, redaction, and poetics, Belcourt ultimately argues that if signifiers of Indigenous suffering are everywhere, so too is evidence of Indigenous peoples’ rogue possibility, their utopian drive.

In NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field, the poet takes on the political demands of queerness, mainstream portrayals of Indigenous life, love and its discontents, and the limits and uses of poetry as a vehicle for Indigenous liberation. In the process, Belcourt once again demonstrates his extraordinary craft, guile, and audacity, and the sheer dexterity of his imagination.


Library Journal Best Book of 2019
Longlist, CBC Canada Reads
A CBC Book of the Year

“[Billy-Ray Belcourt’s] words shake with their own power.” ― Adroit Journal

“Both intellectual and visceral, these poems dazzle with metaphoric richness and striking lyricism.” ― Toronto Star

“An impressive follow-up to his first book.” ― Winnipeg Free Press

“Playful, candid, and campy.” ― Prairie Books NOW

“A masterful blend of the personal and the political, the ephemeral and the corporal, the theoretical and the emotional.” ― Quill & Quire

“For all the ferocious energy and one-two punch of language here, this is also a concentrated, beautifully managed work.” ― Library Journal

“This brilliant book is endlessly giving, lingering in tight spaces within the forms of loneliness, showing us their contours. These poems do the necessary work of negotiating with the heart-killing present from which we imagine and make Indigenous futures. Every line feels like a possible way out of despair.” ― Elissa Washuta, author of My Body Is a Book of Rules

“‘I believe I exist. / To live, one can be neither / more nor less hungry than that.’ How grateful I am that Billy-Ray Belcourt and these poems believe in themselves enough to exist. With prodigious clarity, this work moves swiftly amongst theory and prose, longing and lyric, questioning and coping, ‘not dying’ and ‘obsessively apologizing to the moon for all that she has to witness.’ It is not hyperbole to say these poems are brilliant. And so brilliantly, searingly, they live.” ― TC Tolbert, author of Gephyromania

NDN Coping Mechanisms is a haunting book that dreams a new world ― a ‘holy place filled with NDN girls, hair wet with utopia’ ― as it simultaneously excoriates the world that ‘is a wound’ and the historic and present modalities of violence against Indigenous peoples under Canadian settler colonialism. Belcourt considers the genocidal nation-state, queerness, and the limits and potential of representation, often through a poetic/scholarly lineage that includes Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Saidiya Hartman, Anne Boyer, José Esteban Muñoz, Christina Sharpe, and Gwen Benaway, among others. This is the beautiful achievement of NDN Coping Mechanisms: Belcourt conjures a sovereign literary space that refuses white sovereignty and is always already in relation to the ideas of the foremost decolonial poets and thinkers of Turtle Island.” ― Mercedes Eng, author of Prison Industrial Complex Explodes

About the Author

Billy-Ray Belcourt, author of A History of My Brief Body

Billy-Ray Belcourt is from the Driftpile Cree Nation. He is Canada’s first First Nations Rhodes Scholar. He is the author of the poetry collections NDN Coping Mechanisms and This Wound Is a World, which was awarded the 2018 Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize, the 2018 Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize, and a 2018 Indigenous Voices Award, as well as the collection of essays A History of My Brief Body (Two Dollar Radio, 2020). In 2018, Belcourt was named by CBC Books as one of “14 Canadian poets to watch,” one of “18 emerging writers to watch,” a “Writer to know,” and one of “ten young Canadians to watch” by the CBC. A History of My Brief Body marks his non-fiction debut.