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Indigo’s Best Books of the Year list celebrates Canadian authors, and highlights 10 New Books of the Year.
Selected by Indigo experts each year, many of the books on past lists are more of a hit than the show.
This year, Prince Albert author Jesse Thistle takes sixth place with his poetry book Scars & Stars. Poetry examines Thistle’s life, his personal history, and the legacy of his ancestors with candid frankness.
Exploring his life more deeply than he did with his first book, From the Ashes, Thistle said he hoped to encourage others who might benefit from narrative therapy to write poetry.
“It’s a roadmap or model for others to write their own lives of poetry and not be shy about talking about their scars and their stars.”
He recently spoke with The StarPhoenix about his books and personal experiences.
Q: What does it mean to be on Indigo’s Best Books of the Year list?
a: That’s incredible – it’s the big list, right? This is what drives the fall season and the winter season. Nor do I think that a book of poetry, in the last ten years, has been included in that list. I am absolutely proud and grateful to be on their illustrious list.
You’ve got a great platform. I want to inspire people to social justice issues. That’s what I would like from this list.
If they really like me, which is what got them on the list, I really hope they take a chance on the other nine books. Because there is a reason we all exist.
Q: How does this book relate to your first book, From the Ashes?
a: Well, it’s more of a throwback to my first book, I would say, just to show you where I am now—contextualized or reconnected in healthy kinship networks.
I’ve been reliving my traditional role as a father with my daughter, so I wrote about it. I’ve written about what overcoming addiction is, and that was really missing from From the Ashes. I took it from the heart of my addiction all the way to today, which is different from my first book.
Q: What made you decide to tell your story in poetry in this second book?
a: I wrote it in a romantic style, the way romantics wrote 200 years ago. They sharpened feelings and really tried to stir it up with poetry and literary works.
It’s kind of a response to my previous style – Much deeper than my real prose. You see the tip of the iceberg in my first book, and that’s all at the bottom – how I feel. I show you what love, placement, and a healthy kinship look like.
It also helps me understand my traumas as well as the joys and love in my life so that I can appreciate them.
At the end of the book, I give the most important item. I am not giving that away to the generations of readers who will only read this book. I’m also giving it to my daughter, because this book is about her and I want to empower her and help her write the poetry of her life so she can be the warrior that I wasn’t.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from your writing?
a: Many of the people, places, and situations in life that I speak of are of the category of people whose story is rarely told, or even captured in art. It’s just been overlooked, time and time again. I want to do them a little justice, so that society as a whole begins to see them as relatives, begins to care for them and build empathy.
I look at the huge impact my first book had. What I am most proud of is that people read it and then go and try to help people who are struggling with addiction or the homeless in their daily lives. They are walking down the street thinking about my books and have decided to buy someone a coffee and hear their story. That’s what I hope people do.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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