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Holy Wild

4.56  ·  Rating details ·  135 ratings  ·  24 reviews
In her third collection of poetry, Holy Wild, Gwen Benaway explores the complexities of being an Indigenous trans women in expansive lyric poems. She holds up the Indigenous trans body as a site of struggle, liberation, and beauty. A confessional poet, Benaway narrates her sexual and romantic intimacies with partners as well as her work to navigate the daily burden of transphob ...more
Paperback, 139 pages
Published September 1st 2018 by Book Thug
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Average rating 4.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  135 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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deep breath

this is a collection to expand your entire body to stretch the borders of your being to teach you some stark truths about good loving & real bad loving, loving where the abuse some of our ancestors (settlers) did & do against others, the ancestors of the rightful keepers of these lands. it’s not a didactic lesson & it’s not written around & for us; it’s the writing that teaches my body the most by the spaces, the absences, the gaps, the un-knowing, calls me
Bogi Takács
Wow this was strong. I want to write a longer review highlighting some of my favorite passages later.
Source of the book: Bought with my own money
                    you will not conquer me
                               and I will not disappear

                                                            this is how I know

                                                                                               I’m holy
                         my body is not terra nullius
                                                       and you won’t save me
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved Holy Wild. I loved its fierceness and tenderness. It moved me. Nature permeates the book in English and Anishinaabemowin, a language that Benaway notes in her note is not standardized. She comes to it as a second-language learner who is not a fluent speaker but who feels a responsibility to use the language. This is a form of acknowledgement, celebration and remembering, and just one example of how these poems expose the writer’s vulnerability as she to survive in a trans misogynistic co ...more
Andy Oram
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
Openly political poetry has a bad reputation--and so does confessional poetry--but Benaway turns these into a triumphant, often gripping book. She deals with both her gender transition and her indigenous background, bringing them together most clearly in the poem White Passing. The best poems, such as Phoenix, are powerful and concise. Others go on too long after the point has been made, and even (as in the poem titled Olympia, Washington) veer into a bit of adolescent mooning. Stick with these ...more
Tallon Kennedy
If you love poetry you have GOT to know Gwen Benaway and this book is a wonderful place to start. Holy Wild grapples poignantly and unflinchingly about the realities of being queer and indigenous in a transphobic settler-colonialist world. Benaway's writing is astonishingly vivid, bright, and affecting. She is a stunning writer who is skillful, accessible, and powerful. One of the best poetry collections I've read in awhile. 9/10
Dorothy Mahoney
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The colorful cover opens to mirror images on the inner front and back so that the poetry becomes the core of the illustrated woman. The indigenous artist, Quill Christie-Peters, from Thunder Bay
provides the preface to the book saying, "I hope this image acts as a portal, an invitation, and as a protocol from which to enter this beautiful collection." The poems are a documented journey of the
trans-woman in today's world. In "Root" the final image of transition "as simple as pulling ba
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found this book really challenging in the best way possible. Benaway's poems weave between soul-crushing accounts of abuse and a luscious full-spirited snippets of resistance, healing, and ancestral knowing. All in the same stroke, she is vulnerable and lost and strong. There is a wet and shimmering quality to her writing, a feeling of life and ancestry and healing and past, present and future intersecting all at once, and always through/in her body.
Nom Chompsky
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: can-lit, poetry, queer
Love this boooook! Benaway’s verse is just getting better and better, and this book is so gay and sad and all the things Passage seemed reluctant to totally let loose. I am into this in a big way. The poems can be hard and the whole thing can be hard, but it’s worth it!

“gender is a small detonation / inside the space of me”
I've only read a little of Gwen Benaway's work before this, but after reading Holy Wild I am definitely a big fan. Benaway is a talented poet, and her raw emotion in sharing her experiences as a trans and indigenous woman makes for an emotionally difficult but intensely rewarding read.

Highly recommended.
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, gnc
this is honestly a five star book but i'm discovering that i just don't like confessional poetry very much as a style lol—would recommend if you do. very skillful language usage, powerful ideas, etc. a few lines here and there really got to me, but not big sections. straightforward, clear ideas—a good book to read if you want to be, like, vaguely upset and know exactly why. (i.e., read confessional poetry.)
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: culture, lgbt, woc, poetry
This intimate collection explores gender, womanhood, body, and cultural heritage from the perspective of a trans woman of Métis and Anishinaabe descent. It is beautifully written and intelligent and raw and perfect. I really enjoyed this read.
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Painful and beautiful. Mesmerizing and graphic. Read only if you are prepared to see the unadulterated truth through someone else's eyes. A tough read but essential to understanding the path of becoming who you knew you always were.
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq, indigenous, poetry
An incredibly mesmerizing, painful, difficult and necessary work, and perhaps the best poetry I've ever read. Reading through this collection is like holding your breath and feeling your heart beat. I can't recommend it enough.
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: can-lit, poetry, queer
A confessional book of poems making sense of gender, sex, relationships, indigeneity, transition, femininity, loving men, and more. I like the way she floats between articulating deep sadness and longing and belief in and love for herself.
Cat Haines
One of the most beautiful and moving piece of writing I've ever read.
Jill Dlilits
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Some of these poems hurt for days. Read it soon, it's important.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
One of the current stars of Canadian poetry, as far as I'm concerned. This beautiful book is about indigenity, trans-ness, sex, body and love.

Stunning confessional poetry.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
As beautiful as brutal. True on so many levels.
Sam Collins
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely beautiful. Benaway’s writing will break your heart and then start putting it back together. I want to share this book with everyone I know.
I loved these poems. One of those books where I feel anything I would write as a review would feel too cliche and really all I want to do is reread these poems.
Jun 18, 2019 rated it liked it
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Gwen Benaway is a bisexual feminist Gemini trans girl of Anishinaabe and Métis descent. She has published three collections of poetry, Ceremonies for the Dead and Passage, and Holy Wild. Her fourth collection of poetry, Aperture, is forthcoming from Book*hug in Spring 2020. Her writing has been published in many national publications, including CBC Arts, Maclean’s Magazine, and the Globe and Mail. ...more
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