Profile: Billy-Ray Belcourt

By Anna Bowen, July 2018

When 23-year old Billy-Ray Belcourt stepped up to accept the Griffin Poetry Prize for 2018, his response was one to remember: “This book was written not to be a book…It was written…to allow me to figure out how to be in a world that I did not want, a world that many of us who are Indigenous did not want.” The author of This Wound is a World (Frontenac House, 2018), Belcourt wowed judges with the way in which he “pursues original forms with which to chart the constellations of queerness and indigeneity, rebellion and survival, desire and embodiedness” in this debut poetry collection. In an interview with PRISM, Belcourt says that in his work he returns again and again to the concepts of embodiedness and to “Indian time.” Belcourt is from the Driftpile Cree Nation and is a PhD student at the University of Alberta in the Department of English and Film Studies. He was a 2016 Rhodes Scholar and received a M.St. in Women’s Studies from Oxford University. He is currently working on a project called “The Conspiracy of NDN Joy.”

Belcourt’s work can be found in Assaraus: A Journal of Gay PoetryDecolonizationRed Rising Magazinemâmawai-âcimowakSAD MagYellow Medicine ReviewThe Malahat ReviewPRISM International, and The Next Quarterly. Belcourt was also a guest at the ArtsEverywhere festival in Guelph last year. His next book, NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field, is due out in the fall of 2019 (House of Anansi Press). The Eden Mills Writers’ Festival is delighted to host Belcourt this year where he will be reading from This Wound is a World. From Guelph and Eden Mills to Billy-Ray Belcourt: Congratulations.