Author Lisa Moore says, “Michelle Porter’s Scratching River is both a reckoning and an elegy; a scathing, powerful roar against social injustice, the scars of trauma, climate crisis, environmental damage and, at the very same time, a love song to the power of family, Métis history, rivers, Bison, burdock, and the Métis storyteller and musician, Louis Goulet, who is her great-great-grandfather’s brother.”
Michelle Porter's first novel will be published by Penguin Canada in 2023. Her first book of poetry, Inquiries, was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award in 2019 and was a finalist for the E.J. Pratt Poetry Award in 2021. Her previous non-fiction book, Approaching Fire (2020), in which she embarks on a quest to find her great-grandfather, the Métis fiddler and performer Léon Robert Goulet, was shortlisted for the Indigenous Voices Awards 2021. She is a citizen of the Métis Nation and member of the Manitoba Métis Federation.
Trevor Corkum: Scratching River is a powerful read, a memoir about your brother, a river, a Métis ancestor and relations among all things. It’s a braided narrative grounded in the richness of relationships and the resilience of life. Can you talk more about when and how you began to work on the project?
Alison Taylor is the author of new novel Aftershock.
I noticed an odd thing, in the early days of COVID-19. As things were shutting down, kids being sent home from school and people forced to work at home, as stores closed to regular business and everyone was cooped up alone or with co-habitants, as reports came in from China, Italy, and Iran, and then Europe of overwhelmed hospitals and exponential infection rates, I don’t think it’s an understatement to say people were freaking out.
But what I noticed is that particular people among my friends, myself included, were actually coping fairly well. The commonality among us? As trauma survivors, we were always already waiting for something really bad to happen. And then it did. Rearranging our lives around something catastrophic was already old hat. Complicated mixtures of grief, guilt, loss and shame are just part of the resilience package. In moments of crisis, we don’t break down: we make sure everybody around us is okay. And then we make jokes.
So when I was asked to curate this list of books related to my own work or my own interests, I looked for a way to do both. As I write, I am mid-way through a new novel about intergenerational trauma, and when I’m not writing, I am obsessively watching what ap …