DOING IT SPECIAL
If you like riveting, racy writing, nedί nezų (Good Medicine) by Tenille K. Campbell (Arsenal Pulp Press) is the poetry collection for you. Campbell invites us into her intimate world, as she did in her debut collection #IndianLovePoems. With poem titles like “between thick pale thighs,” “morning stretches,” “I want to taste your language,” “I want to kiss,” and “sex sex sex,” the content is erotic. Do people ask the author if her identity as an Indigenous woman defines her erotica? Maybe, as in the poem “why indigenous erotica,” Campbell writes, “why not just erotica / do you do it different / do you do it special[?]” But the poem ultimately appeals to our senses (including our sense of humour) to show that her Indigenous identity does make her erotica special.
The content in nedί nezų is downright dreamy: “you make me ache / like the land beneath us / lying in wait / holding story.” In “I wanna be tangled in moonlight”: “I wanna be tracing your stories / constellations of ink and scars / hearing your memories / echo in the dark / between dusk and dawn.” Later, she writes about falling in love with someone and meeting their family, sitting around a kitchen table with “ears warm” and “cheeks burning.” “They told me stories of you,” she writes, “they told me the beginning of you.” When I read that, I felt Campbell wrap me in a warm blanket of nostalgia as I reflected on charming memories — some hers, some mine.
Some poems are more powerful than sensual. In a poem with hashtags like “#JusticeForColten”: “we don’t have the luxury / of not explaining to our babies / why we don’t wear black hoodies / why we don’t take cabs alone / and why we don’t trust cops.” But “we still here… tears spilling, laughter flowing … ancestors in our eyes.” The poem “indigenous academia” takes pride in reclaiming space and being “visibly / undeniably / irrevocably / indigenous.” Campbell’s warmth and willingness to show us her heart (and heartbreak) is endearing, hilarious, and moving. Curl up on the couch with a glass of wine and move through time with her.