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House of Anansi Press

NDN Coping Mechanisms

Notes from the Field

Written by Billy-Ray Belcourt

Published September 03, 2019 | ISBN 9781487005771

Cover of NDN Coping Mechanisms

Regular price $19.95 CAD

112 pages | 8 in × 6 in
Print Format

Also Available as an Ebook

About this book

NDN Coping Mechanisms

Notes from the Field

Billy-Ray Belcourt

In his follow-up to This Wound is a World, Billy-Ray Belcourt’s Griffin Poetry Prize–winning collection, NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field is a provocative, powerful, and genre-bending new work that uses the modes of accusation and interrogation.

He aims an anthropological eye at the realities of everyday life to show how they house the violence that continues to reverberate from the long twentieth century. In a genre-bending constellation of poetry, photography, redaction, and poetics, Belcourt ultimately argues that if signifiers of Indigenous suffering are everywhere, so too is evidence of Indigenous peoples’ rogue possibility, their utopian drive.

In NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field, the poet takes on the political demands of queerness, mainstream portrayals of Indigenous life, love and its discontents, and the limits and uses of poetry as a vehicle for Indigenous liberation. In the process, Belcourt once again demonstrates his extraordinary craft, guile, and audacity, and the sheer dexterity of his imagination.

Awards and Praise


Winner, Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry
Finalist, Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry
Longlist, CBC Canada Reads
A Library Journal Best Book of 2019
A CBC Book of the Year

“[Billy-Ray Belcourt’s] words shake with their own power.” — Adroit Journal

“Both intellectual and visceral, these poems dazzle with metaphoric richness and striking lyricism.” — Toronto Star

“An impressive follow-up to his first book.” — Winnipeg Free Press

“Playful, candid, and campy.” — Prairie Books NOW

“A masterful blend of the personal and the political, the ephemeral and the corporal, the theoretical and the emotional.” — Quill & Quire

“For all the ferocious energy and one-two punch of language here, this is also a concentrated, beautifully managed work.” — Library Journal

“This brilliant book is endlessly giving, lingering in tight spaces within the forms of loneliness, showing us their contours. These poems do the necessary work of negotiating with the heart-killing present from which we imagine and make Indigenous futures. Every line feels like a possible way out of despair.” — Elissa Washuta, author of My Body Is a Book of Rules

“‘I believe I exist. / To live, one can be neither / more nor less hungry than that.’ How grateful I am that Billy-Ray Belcourt and these poems believe in themselves enough to exist. With prodigious clarity, this work moves swiftly amongst theory and prose, longing and lyric, questioning and coping, ‘not dying’ and ‘obsessively apologizing to the moon for all that she has to witness.’ It is not hyperbole to say these poems are brilliant. And so brilliantly, searingly, they live.” — TC Tolbert, author of Gephyromania

NDN Coping Mechanisms is a haunting book that dreams a new world — a ‘holy place filled with NDN girls, hair wet with utopia’ — as it simultaneously excoriates the world that ‘is a wound’ and the historic and present modalities of violence against Indigenous peoples under Canadian settler colonialism. Belcourt considers the genocidal nation-state, queerness, and the limits and potential of representation, often through a poetic/scholarly lineage that includes Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Saidiya Hartman, Anne Boyer, José Esteban Muñoz, Christina Sharpe, and Gwen Benaway, among others. This is the beautiful achievement of NDN Coping Mechanisms: Belcourt conjures a sovereign literary space that refuses white sovereignty and is always already in relation to the ideas of the foremost decolonial poets and thinkers of Turtle Island.” — Mercedes Eng, author of Prison Industrial Complex Explodes


Winner, Griffin Poetry Prize
Winner, Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize
Winner, Most Significant Book of Poetry in English by an Emerging Indigenous Writer, Indigenous Voices Award
Finalist, Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry
Finalist, Gerald Lampert Memorial Award
Finalist, Raymond Souster Award
A CBC Books Best Poetry Collection of the Year

“Blending the resources of love song and elegy, prayer and manifesto, Billy-Ray Belcourt’s This Wound is a World shows us poetry at its most intimate and politically necessary. Mindful of tangled lineages and the lingering erasures of settler colonialism, Belcourt crafts poems in which ‘history lays itself bare’ — but only as bare as their speaker’s shapeshifting heart. Belcourt pursues original forms with which to chart the constellations of queerness and Indigeneity, rebellion and survival, desire and embodiedness these poems so fearlessly explore. Between its bold treatment of sexuality and wary anatomy of despair, This Wound is a World peels back the layers of feeling and experience to offer, finally, the glimmerings of hope — which only sometimes looks like escape: ‘follow me out the backdoor of the world.’ This electrifying book reminds us that a poem may live twin lives as incantation and inscription, singing from the untamed margins: ‘grieve is the name i give to myself / i carve it into the bed frame. / i am make-believe. / this is an archive. / it hurts to be a story.’” — 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize Judges’ Citation

This Wound is a World is a decolonial wild fire from which the acclaimed writer Billy-Ray Belcourt builds a new world — and it's the brilliant, radiant Indigenous world, I want to live in. His poetics create space out of nothing, unapologetically inhabit that space and then gift it to us with uninhibited love. Belcourt is sovereign genius and This Wound is a World redefines poetics as a refusal of colonial erasure, a radical celebration of Indigenous life and our beautiful, intimate rebellion. This is a breathtaking masterpiece. Belcourt has emerged fully formed.” — Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, CBC Books

“Belcourt, in a cutting, contemporary idiom, has made himself the urgent fresh voice of his generation.” — Edmonton Journal

“This is poetry at its brightest. It is electric, profound, necessary work. Belcourt bends genre, challenging the cage of colonialism through a poetics of intimacy. It is a collection unafraid to ask questions, exploring grief, desire, queer sexuality, and Indigeneity with tender honesty. Belcourt asks us to consider the ways Indigenous bodies can be simultaneously unbound and ‘rendered again,’ how worlds can be made and unmade. These are poems to be returned to again and again with reverence.” — Prism International

“Billy-Ray Belcourt’s poems are full of sound. They are cacophonous enunciations of both the blaring and imperceptible legacies of colonization that resonate in contemporary life.” — CBC Arts