A celebrated young Canadian poet and scholar from the Driftpile First Nation offers a meditation on memory, gender, anger, shame, and ecstasy, exploring his own experiences of marginalization and making a case for joy as an act of resistance.
Belcourt’s voice and perspective are fully-formed and unflinching throughout this series of twelve essays. Belcourt holds nothing back as he weaves his way through these pieces, sharing experiences of coming-of-age, queerness, and as a member of the Driftpile Cree Nation ... Deeply personal and raw, Belcourt flays himself wide open in a way that is simultaneously delicate and jarring ... his writing overflows with insight and conviction. There is an alluring complexity to the language and style of his writing, as well as the subject matter, which will leave the reader looking forward to more from Belcourt’s hand in the future.
Belcourt breaks form to gesture toward a queer indigenous utopia ... A History of My Brief Body resists distillation, embracing instead the contradictions of triumphing over oppression by honoring joy and desire ... at heart, a rallying cry for freedom ... Belcourt to draw nearer to his subject through poetry, theory and essays in which “a third you exists—the ‘lyric you’: he who observes, keeps watch, analyzes from afar, takes in data, then writes from a distance.' That expanse narrows and widens in these essays, in which the register rises and falls like a conversation that takes all night.
A painful read. The book promises to be about joy, and yet — it’s so much about grief and sadness. The book challenged me to confront my own underbelly of sadness ... Extending the personal and the political, the book holds so much. From a native queer experience, Belcourt extends what it means to live in a state, to surpass the body’s defined frame, and to practice emoting as transcendence. Belcourt bravely characterizes the lives of others, including close family members, lovers, random partners, and service workers, as well as the work of highly praised writers, philosophers, and scholars. In a way, prestige or notoriety is dissolved, and we get to know a heart that holds an expanse — multiple and diverse loves in all their brokenness, through enacting violations, even in suicidal ideation ... How the work bleeds beyond the self and oozes into everyday life may draw attention from readers of memoir and auto-theory, yet the book feels like it isn’t for anyone but the author himself. All the while we are reading, it’s like we are overhearing something so intimate. There’s a large bit of the work that feels like an ars poetica.