Jónína Kirton | Page as bone ~ Ink as bloodReviewed by: Lorraine Martinuik
Biography Brief: Jónína Kirton, a Red River Métis/Icelandic poet, facilitator and manuscript consultant, was born in Portage la Prairie, Manitobe (Treaty One). She currently lives in the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Skwxwú7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh Peoples. She graduated from the Simon Fraser University’s Writer’s Studio in 2007 where she now teaches and is their Indigenous Advisor. Kirton has published two poetry collections: page as bone ~ ink as blood (2015), and An Honest Woman (2018), both with Talonbooks. Her interest in the stories of her Métis and Icelandic ancestors is the common thread throughout much of her writing. An Honest Woman was a finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. In 2016, she received the City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for an Emerging Artist in the Literary Arts. Her literary activities include being one of the founders of the reading series Indigenous Brilliance, and developing and curating Turtle Island Responds, an online news related poetry series.
The title of Jónína Kirton’s first book, page as bone ~ ink as blood, declares a territory for the poems. The poet’s tools – paper, ink – tap directly into the physical body – bone, blood. The poems emerge from the body, or perhaps are located there, to be uncovered. The poem “the temple” opens with “my body has things it would like to say // (others it would like to hide)”. The speaker in “the same lines” says:
our bodies house all memories
most lie just below the skin
some go deep into our bones
marrow houses stories