Writing to Right the Wrongs: Truth, Appropriation, and Poetry on a Genocide Site (an essay in three-and-a-half parts)

Andreae Callanan


Five years ago, an ill-worded editorial in a literary trade newsletter brought international attention to the so-called “appropriation debate” in Canadian literature. This essay examines literary cultural appropriation as a tool of settler colonialism, and reflects on the lasting impact of the “appropriation debate” on the author’s own research and writing methodologies as a non-Indigenous poet, scholar, editor, and instructor. Establishing my own positionality as a white, female, disabled Newfoundland writer, and taking creative non-fiction methods as critical starting points, I ask: what are the obligations and possibilities inherent in reading and teaching poetry? What are the boundaries of settler interpretation of Indigenous writing? What does “living in right relation” look like in a region captured through genocide? These questions are deliberately open-ended, urging the reader to examine their own reading and writing practices.


Canadian literature; Indigenous literature; cultural appropriation; poetry; pedagogy; social justice

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2021%2Fju.v1i2.2373


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