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Islands of Decolonial Love

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  493 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
In her debut collection of short stories, Islands of Decolonial Love, renowned writer and activist Leanne Simpson vividly explores the lives of contemporary Indigenous Peoples and communities, especially those of her own Nishnaabeg nation.

Found on reserves, in cities and small towns, in bars and curling rinks, canoes and community centres, doctors offices and pickup trucks
Paperback, 143 pages
Published November 15th 2013 by Arbeiter Ring (first published November 1st 2013)
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Jacob Wren
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I wrote about it here:

And then three passages from Islands of Decolonial Love:

etienne gets out the lines and in two minutes we know we’re on the school because we’re pulling in mackerel easy. he watches as i hold the hook and snap the fish into the garbage pail, which is my reveal. it’s sunny and it’s windy and it’s perfect and the arms of the day are wide open and no one has to be anywhere. i see a northern gannet and i love gannets because they can disc
Beautiful, powerful, challenging, inventive. A collection of poems, songs, stories that are unlike anything I've ever read before. A book to read (and listen to, since it comes with digital access to some poems recorded with also beautifully done music) again and again.
Maia Caron
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful book--an evocative mix of both poetry and prose. So many humourous moments, the kind I like--self deprecating, yet poignant at the same time. A hard mix to get right, but Simpson manages to make it pitch perfect. I wish I had gone to her reading in Toronto a few months ago, just to hear these words come out of her mouth. I have heard her speak them to music on her website--worthwhile to give a listen.

The author opens little windows into her life affected by colonialism. She ha
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
this book came into my life exactly when i needed it to. i'd been honing the craft of writing love letters to myself these past couple of years, and i bought this book at the abolition convergence in mnisota. how could i not fall in love with its title?

i read the first short story, and it explained everything i've ever felt about love and fear and the summer sun and could never tell anyone because a queer femme(ish) person of color with ptsd doesn't just wear their heart on their sleeves like t
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"i don't get it. i can see them. i know them. i can think like them while still thinking like me, but nothing i do stops them. nothing i do disrupts it." - p. 110

This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. I think it will be added to the few that I keep close to me, and I find myself wanting to give everyone a copy. Her words are so poignant and powerful in the way that they unearth the pain of seeing and feeling the cruelty of the world around us. She speaks to the hole of lonelin
Ivan Roberts-Davis
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
such a great read! highly recommended! thank you leanne simpson.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is the kind of thing you feel like you need to immediately reread so as to not let go of it.

“dudley george is the first aboriginal person to be killed in a land rights dispute in canada since the 19th century.

i guess that’s right, if you don’t count suicide, cop killings, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, violent deaths, deaths from poverty, deaths from coping and deaths from being a woman.”


it takes an ocean not to break

"the mother in me has to believe that i can heal you by loving you, b
So happy books like this exist.
Mila Menna
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Stylistically I didn't like reading this book because there was often no context or specification of who the speaker was. It was more so feelings and snippets of life like poetry than a cohesive story so it was hard to follow. But respects to Leanne for expressing her experience in Indigenous communities and with white people. I loved how animals were personified as well as Mississauga showing how the entities around us have personalities. Lots of literary devices but I probably wouldn't read ag ...more
Carol Tilley
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: indigenous, stories
painful, lyrical, beautiful, haunting
Nov 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nouvelles
J'ai beaucoup aimé ce livre. Leanne Simpson y raconte des histoires & des poèmes-chansons qui fessent dans le tas & qui, plus que de décortiquer l'expérience autochtone, sont entièrement immergées dans la vision nishnaabeg du monde. C'est poignant, souvent drôle. Il y a des passages d'une beauté délicate, comme suspendue de façon précaire au-dessus des mots. Le poids du colonialisme est présent partout ; il donne lieu à une colère salutaire. Mais, comme le dit la phrase de Lee Maracle pl ...more
Michael Bryson
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Michael by:
Shelves: short-stories, poetry
Fragmentary in structure and written without the standard capital letter at the start of sentences, this book is what it proclaims to be in its title. Some of the pieces present as short stories, some present as poems. There is an audio component, which can be found at the publisher's website.

The pieces frequently make use of Indigenous words, which are translated in footnotes. The overall experience is one of entering the colonial space that is being deconstructed by storytelling, or maybe just
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
how do we get free? in this book are a thousand stories that offer a map, not the kind that is measured and charted but the kind that is sensed the kind that makes your bones say o yes the kind that is knowing right and good and kind, yes.

right now in my life i am trying to heal some particulars of whiteness: the coopting of sensation/emotion/feeling into logic/reason/argument. the immense pressure to know it all and do it right *now*. the paradoxical & squeezed place of committing to anti-
I want to rip apart every chapter of this book so they stand alone and put them randomly in my house so I can stumble across them at different times of the day and re-read them all again. Or put them all in different orders. Or stack them together in various formations. Put one chapter in every bag or backpack that I have. I finished reading this book and then flipped back and re-read the stories and poems that I loved the first time. This book is good. Of course, you have to listen to it here a ...more
Jacob Vigil
This was one of my favorites of the year. Every so often you read a book that evokes or creates its own feel, its own atmosphere, that seems to be larger and more expansive than the writing itself and sticks with you. This is one of those books. It is sad, funny, passionate, poetic, and joyful all at once. It is one of the best examples I've seen recently of a piece of art that seems to capture an essence of Native American reality and history.
Nathan Niigan
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
great stories!
Doretta Lau
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A searingly beautiful, heartbreaking and daring book.
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found it a bit hard to get into, but by the end I could appreciate and enjoy most of the stories and songs. I think it's a good exercise to read works that integrate indigenous languages into them, reminding me of the histories of this land and how short my ancestors' history here is. very real, raw and yet encouraging - it requires good listening and reflection and I appreciate that. I'm excited to listen to some of the stories because I think they'll be told even better in the spoken word.
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much. I am going to recommend it to everyone. It's written in a way that reminds me of how I think. The content is also amazing. And I love how there are audio clips to go with some of it.
Magdalena Milosz
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, literature
Beautiful poems and stories. I look forward to listening to the soundtrack as well.
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, indigenous
I don't even like poetry, or short stories normally, but this book is amazing.
Anna Bunce
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent. Would highly recommend.
Elaine Corden
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As soon as I finished this I went back to the first page and read it again. Completely transformative and transgressive reimagining of traditional fiction. READ THIS BOOK!!
Sarah May
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Leanne Simpson's collection of stories and poems in Islands of Decolonial Love are truly spectacular. It offers a powerful glimpse into Indigenous resurgence while retaining the beauty and effortlessness that seems to be to inherent in Simpson's storytelling. The reclamation of Indigenous voice and power is planted in even the smallest of nooks and crannies of the work, such as Simpson's refusal to use the Western standard of first word capitalization in sentences throughout the collection. For ...more
dudley george is the first aboriginal person to be killed in a land rights dispute in canada since the 19th century.

i guess that’s right, if you don’t count suicide, cop killings, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, violent deaths, deaths from poverty, deaths from coping and deaths from being a woman.”

these stories are gorgeous. honestly that’s really all there is to say. do yourself a favor and listen to the vocal tracks, too.
Pascal Christeller
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Important and accessible. A must read. Just read it already.
Chris Harrison
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This year, I am reading CBC’s “12 Books by Indigenous Women You Should Read”. This is one of them.

"Islands of Decolonial Love", by Leanne Simpson, is a collection of vignettes, both prose and poetry, about the lives Indigenous People as they interact in modern Canadian society. These islands occur on reserves, small towns, urban centres, farms, the woods and on the water. The stories and songs are sometimes beautiful, sometimes raw, sometimes heart-breaking, and sometimes all three. "Islands of
Kristine Morris
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I give this book of stories and songs 6 stars. It’s funny, painful, and derisive. I like books that are creative, and this combination of short stories and songs that can be listened to online is refreshingly different. A few words first about the format of this book.

Like some other writer’s who are Indigenous, Leanne Simpson does not use punctuation aside from periods. I am not aware of the purpose behind this, whether it’s a poetic mechanism or if it is a statement against the general accepta
The Master
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved so many pieces in this collection. Pencil notes everywhere.

Favourites were: treaties, pipty, jiibay or aandizooke, caged, and she asked why.
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Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is “a gifted writer who brings passion and commitment to her storytelling and who has demonstrated an uncommon ability to manage an impressive range of genres from traditional storytelling to critical analysis, from poetry to the spoken word, from literary and social activism.” In 2014, Leanne was named the inaugural RBC Charles Taylor Emerging writer by Thomas King, an ...more
More about Leanne Simpson...
“there are a couple of problems with being twenty-two but you don't know about them yet, because you can only find out about the problems sometime after you are no longer twenty-two. anyway, one of the problems with being twenty-two is you start to get afraid that maybe you're horrible at everything, mostly because you're not really good at anything yet, so you decide to stay the course with biology until a sign appears, even though being stoned drunk all the time doesn't register as a sign.” 2 likes
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