You’re the clump of blackened spruce
that lights my gasoline-soaked heart
It’s just impossible you won’t be back
to quench yourself in my crème-soda
Irreverent and transcendent, lyrical and slang, Heating the Outdoors is an endlessly surprising new work from award-winning poet Marie-Andrée Gill.
In these micropoems, writing and love are acts of decolonial resilience. Rooted in Nitassinan, the territory and ancestral home of the Ilnu Nation, they echo the Ilnu oral tradition in Gill’s interrogation and reclamation of the language, land, and interpersonal intimacies distorted by imperialism. They navigate her interior landscape—of heartbreak, humour, and, ultimately, unrelenting light—amidst the boreal geography.
Heating the Outdoors describes the yearnings for love, the domestic monotony of post-breakup malaise, and the awkward meeting of exes. As the lines between interior and exterior begin to blur, Gill’s poems, here translated by Kristen Renee Miller, become a record of the daily rituals and ancient landscapes that inform her identity not only as a lover, then ex, but also as an Ilnu and Québécoise woman.
Praise for Heating the Outdoors:
“These poems live in a bachelor apartment over the corner store. They’re on the bus looking out at the muddy hangtime between winter and spring, in a too-warm jacket. These poems will make you a cup of tar-coffee and tell you about the ache of desire in the language of crunching snow. You’ll come back to them over and over again to listen.” —Carleigh Baker, author of Bad Endings
“Marie-Andrée Gill’s spare, luminous micropoems are endlessly surprising, twisting out, into, and unto themselves like complicated lovers. Defiantly fragmentary, these are stunning shards of tongues, embodied vernaculars slowly, steadily unsettling grammars. Kristen Renee Miller’s translations retain the elegance and shimmer of the originals while wondrously conveying their knottedness, their syntax of skin. When at last we reach Nitassinan, we are reminded of the worlds poetry documents, but also of the worlds it creates. This is poetry that claims the power to ‘gnaw the meat off each day and spit out the pin bones’ through a language as unresolved as our decolonial dreams and as necessary as our sovereign desires.” —Urayoán Noel, author of Transversal
“Heating the Outdoors is a stunning collection exploring heartbreak, and the awkward dance between exes from the positionality of an Ilnu and Québécoise woman whose poetic ‘gasoline-soaked heart’ yearns deeply for love. Translated by Kristen Renee Miller from French into English, Gill’s Heating the Outdoors re-wilds the ritualistic humdrum of domestic life while honouring the land and her ‘crème-soda ancestral spirit.’” —Shannon Webb-Campbell, author of Lunar Tides and I Am a Body of Land
“An exceptional third book by the Saguenay poet, who kneels in the beautiful snowbanks of a love that melts all too quickly.” —Dominic Tardif, Le Devoir
“A luminous, resilient read that finds resonance in our little hidden wounds.” —Rose Carine Henriquez, Le Devoir
“I’m literally captivated by the accuracy, the beauty. They taste of honey, these poems.” —Karine Villeneuve, bookseller, Page par Page
“This collection of poems is a powerful, refreshingly honest ode to womanhood, love, loss, and introspection. There is a level of vulnerability in each line and a level of honesty within each stanza that readers interested in coming-of-age literature should, without a shadow of a doubt, enjoy.” —Olivia Cyrus, The Cyrus Piece
Ilnu Nation member Marie-Andrée Gill grew up on the Mashteuiatsh reserve in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region in Quebec, home to the Pekuakamishkueu community. She is the acclaimed author of three French-language poetry collections from La Peuplade: Béante, Frayer, and Chauffer le dehors. Two of her books have been translated into English by Kristen Renee Miller, including Spawn (2020) and Heating the Outdoors (forthcoming in 2023). A doctoral student in literature, Gill’s research and creative work focus on the decolonial project of writing the intimate. She hosts the award-winning Radio-Canada podcast “Laissez-nous raconter: L’histoire crochie” (Telling Our Twisted Histories), which “reclaims Indigenous history by exploring words whose meanings have been twisted by centuries of colonization.” Gill’s work has been nominated for many awards, including the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, and she is a three-time recipient of the Salon du Livre Prize in Poetry. She has also won two Indigenous Voices Awards, including the Best Published Poetry in French prize for Chauffer le dehors. Also in 2020, Gill was named Artist of the Year by the Quebec Council of Arts and Letters.
Kristen Renee Miller is the executive director and editor-in-chief for Sarabande Books. A poet and translator, she is a 2023 NEA Fellow and the translator of two books from the French by poet Marie-Andrée Gill: Spawn (2020) and Heating the Outdoors (2023). Her work can be found widely, including in POETRY, The Kenyon Review, and Best New Poets. She is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, AIGA, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Gulf Coast Prize in Translation, and the American Literary Translators Association. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky.