Tenille K. Campbell, 106 pages, Signature Editions, signature-editions.com, $17.95
From Wahpole Island to Northern Saskatchewan to the West Coast, Tenille K. Campbell’s debut poetry collection #IndianLovePoems reveals both the messy and the magical nature of contemporary dating, sex, and relationships.
Nothing is off limits in Campbell’s collection. Instead, Campbell moves us through a series of lovers, exchanges with her own John Smith, and one-night stands in campfires, bars, and backseat cars under the northern lights. For Campbell, it’s not about finding The One — each poem about each lover is, after all, numbered off — but rather, the boon that comes with the fleeting, intimate memory f her encounters afforded in love-making and love-giving.
There is something fiercely provocative about Campbell’s collection, how her writing is just a touch poetic, profound and poignant, and yet still, accessible. Below the surface of Campbell’s playful and sensual tone too, #IndianLovePoems looks into the complexities of love and desire when intermingled with race, culture, and intent.
How, then, does decolonization look like intimate spaces? Where do we place and the desires and dreams of Indigenous women, their bodies, and their love? Here, the political is intimate and the intimate is political as she writes: “between conversations / indigenous politics / and who screwed who / I fell in lust / with a structured jawline / a messy man bun / and ideas too big / for Indian Act politics.”