NEYAASHIINIGMIING, ON – In 2021, seventeen Indigenous spoken-word artists from Abya Yala (South America) and Turtle Island (North America) were invited by Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) in Toronto, Canada, and Festival of the Peripheries (FLUP) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to participate in the Slam Coalkan. This project, funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, was created to allow Indigenous poets from across the Americas to meet and share ideas, dreams, and aspirations for the future, through two slam performances and a series of roundtables around the importance of storytelling.
TIFA then reached out to Kegedonce Press to have the performers’ works published in an English- language anthology, Slam Coalkan Performance Poetry: The Condor and the Eagle Meet.
Slam Coalkan is curated by poets Jennifer Alicia Murrin of Toronto and Renata Tupinambá of São Paulo. The festivals’ directors, Roland Gulliver (TIFA) and Julio Ludemir (FLUP) have each contributed an afterword reflecting on this extraordinary cross-continental collaboration. Digitally enhanced with QR codes, Slam Coalkan links readers to videos of the poets’ performances at the FLUP and TIFA festivals.
The Slam Coalkan performances and the resulting anthology evoke an ancient Indigenous prophecy
called coalkan, in which South America is represented by the Condor and North America, the Eagle. The prophecy states: The day will come when the Eagle and the Condor will fly together in the same sky, wing to wing, and the world will come into balance. The poetry of Slam Coalkan speaks out against the evils of colonialism, racism, transphobia, and genocide.
The artwork on the book’s visually stunning cover is by Philip Cote III and Gustavo Caboco, with design by Chantal Lalonde and Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm. Slam Coalkan will be on bookshelves on May 31st.
Tyler Pennock, award-winning author of Bones, writes of Slam Coalkan:
“This collection is an invitation, a re-focusing, and a collaboration long overdue. Persistent and affirming, the poets pull our gaze away from centered norms of power, empire, and colony. In this, every poem is a world, unique to the storyteller, diverse and full, maintained as living response to the brutality of oppression. Every page is necessary and compelling – an awakening, and a ‘body that transmutes hate in song.’”
Slam Coalkan will have its official launch at an in-person and online event at Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto on June 21st at 7 PM. Contributor and editor Jennifer Alicia Murrin will participate and the event will be moderated by Tyler Pennock.
About Kegedonce Press: Kegedonce Press is a dedicated Indigenous publisher, based in Neyaashiinigmiing and Owen Sound, Ontario. It has been publishing beautiful books involving Indigenous writers, editors, artists, graphic designers and more since 1993.
About Festa Literária das Periferias (FLUP): Conceived by Ecio Salles and Julio Ludemir, FLUP was created in 2012 with the objective of being a space for the formation of new readers and authors on the outskirts of large Brazilian cities. In 2022, the 11th edition of the Literary Festival of the Peripheries celebrated black modernism, with a program of events at the Rio Art Museum (MAR) and the Museum of Afro-Brazilian History and Culture (Muhcab).
About Toronto International Festival of Authors: The Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) inspires, empowers and connects through the art of stories, offering book lovers a breadth of bold, ambitious and accessible literary experiences. As Canada’s largest literary festival, the charitable organization provides engaging opportunities to meet, hear and learn from the world’s best contemporary writers and thinkers, and to celebrate the power of stories.
Since 1974, TIFA has presented thousands of authors, including 22 Nobel Laureates, who represent diverse perspectives and a range of literary genres for all ages. TIFA’s creative programmes continue to adapt to changing times, capturing the most innovative and enlightening forms of storytelling, on stage and online. Based at Harbourfront Centre, TIFA delivers a year-round programme of events and activities that reflect Toronto to its residents, its literature to the nation, and its creative ambition to the world. The 43rd edition of TIFA’s flagship festival will take place September 22 – October 2, 2022.