Emily McGiffin’s poems examine imperial violence and colonialism in South Africa and Canada.
Multifaceted and multi-voiced, Emily McGiffin’s poems explore the ongoing violence, destruction, and loss wrought by colonialism and capitalist extraction across time and geographic space, from Turtle Island to South Africa. McGiffin animates the spectres that haunt our private and public pasts. Her words remind us that we live in a world shaped by the events and people of the past, by suffering, and seizure, yet at times in the shadow of great acts of generosity. This world, largely built by iterations of violence, still concentrates wealth into the hands of a few, and McGiffin reminds us that power wants to hold its grip, to reproduce itself.
my body an ark
carrying successors like a chambered nautilus
what i was placed here to do
ferry the unborn
across the inhospitable land
make a bed amid the thornbush
make a tea table, forge the domestic
bliss of my country
raise them as heirs
draw our lineage in the sand