Staff Pick: Mallory Burnside Holmes Chooses Generations Re-merging by shalan joudry
As much as this collection is a poetry in search of medicine, it is medicine itself. Reading through shalan joudry’s Generations Re-merging is akin to drinking a hot bowl of broth enriched with the minerals of words like wild, remembrance, waiting, persistence, hope, the known and the unknown.
The first time I heard joudry read from her work at Mount Allison University in 2014, the whole room was taken in by her focused intention and ability to add drops of clarity into the murky waters that Generations Re-merging navigates its readers through.
In this ambitious collection, joudry looks from a bird’s-eye view (sometimes literally the eagle’s or the crow’s) at where we are in this space and this time. What is known and unknown to each of us in our corresponding generations? How does the known become unknown and how does poverty come to obscure abundance?
it’s all so fragile and I’m trying to believe / an indigenous worldview / custom and relations / will survive the distance / between my grandmother and me (“The Challenge”)
In joudry’s call to recognize that we are lost and have forgotten the wild she is at times fragile, vulnerable and uncertain, while at others hopeful and passionate to rise to the challenge. In “A Call to Action” she announces in a growl:
now that i’ve waited / and heard the great songs / of great thinkers / and walkers / i want to walk like a storm with large teeth… / i’ve become the wolf in the room / from the waiting
Generations Re-merging is powerful in its breadth, as well as on the level of the line. As only the most skilled poets can do, joudry knows how to hone the power of a single world. Her powerful use of words from the Mi’kmaw language interspersed with English implicitly calls forward another type of merging that must take place in Mi’kma’ki. In doing so, she turns the reader’s attention to a history that goes back further than 250 generations, and continues to stretch into the future with every present moment.
This is a book readers will want to return to again and again as we together navigate our way back to our wildness.
the lines of ancestry are an eerie walk for any of us
where have we come from
and from whom?
where are we headed
and how much change is natural?
what are we losing
or gaining in the transformation
one generation to the next?