Spring 2022 Poetry Preview: Heating the Outdoors by Marie-Andrée Gill, translated by Kristen Renee Miller | Book*hug Press

Spring 2022 Poetry Preview: Heating the Outdoors by Marie-Andrée Gill, translated by Kristen Renee Miller

Today we are kicking off our Spring 2023 Previews with Heating the Outdoors by Marie-Andrée Gill, translated by Kristen Renee Miller!

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 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,’” writes Shannon Webb-Campbell, author of Lunar Tides and I Am a Body of Land.

Below is an excerpt. Enjoy! Heating the Outdoors will be released on March 7, 2023, and is available now for pre-order now from our online shop or from your local independent bookstore.

Heating the Outdoors by Marie-Andrée Gill, translated by Kristen Renee Miller

The way you blow a kiss
kept in your palm
I blow words
with a stale hope in the pit of my throat a last drink of milk
before it expires

A caress without purpose, a splicing of limbs, a dust kitten on
the floor, a room closed off in fall, a scab torn off, regrown.
I lay my remains on the stove, and my birds hide themselves
away to die.

Love is a virgin forest
then a clearcut
in the next line

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 creme-soda
ancestral spirit

Sometimes I close my eyes and pretend I’m there:

You flip the choke, yank the cord, and we take off in a black
cloud. With this much snow, we can’t break down; I’m not
even wearing a coverall. I’m enveloped by something like that
saying, everything in its own place. You steer through trees in
the dark, turn on a dime. Branches in my face, flakes in my
eyes—with you I’d never get stranded.

It would make a good title for something, I tell myself:
Dances with ski-doos.

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: BéanteFrayer, 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 POETRYThe 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.

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