Before the Usual Time is an eclectic and riveting collection of short stories and poems by Indigenous authors from multiple countries. This collection includes themes of loss, healing, spirituality, and both hope and trepidation for the future. In “Unanswered Questions,” we are invited into a post-apocalyptic landscape that hits all too close to home. In “Family Trees,” we are reminded of our significance for ongoing cultural resurgence as the author states, “We are the seeds of the last fire tree!” In “Goodmind,” we are warned about the need for protection of Indigenous knowledges and the ways they can be manipulated in a digital age. This compilation of works highlights Indigenous voices in contemporary works and genres and would be a valuable addition to any classroom or school library.
144 pp., 5.5 × 8.5"
Edited by Darlene Naponse (Anishinaabe from Atikameksheng Anishnawbek)
Source: Association of Book Publishers of BC - Canadian Indigenous Books for Schools (2021-2022)
About the author
Darlene Naponse is an Anishinaabe from Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, Northern Ontario, where she was born and raised. She is a writer, independent film director, video artist, and community activist. She completed her MFA in Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe. Several of her short stories have been published in the Yellow Medicine Review, Along the 46th Anthology, and The Malahat Review. She is currently working on a book of short stories. She works from her studio on the Rez (Atikameksheng Anishnawbek).
Excerpt: Before the Usual Time: A Collection of Indigenous Stories and Poems. (edited by Darlene Naponse)
TRYING TO REMEMBER A DREAM
My head is too hot. I heard it again. The same sad voice as lastnight. The voice called out, "can anyone hear me?". It soundedlike a girl. When I called out, she couldn't hear me. I want tofind her. I want to help her. Why am I so sweaty? Was she alone?How do I get to her? But it was a dream. What time is it? 7:30AM. I should try and dream this again. What am I supposed todo today? I'll try tonight. Where's my phone? I have to get up. Ineed clothes. I hate work. No, I don't.
Where's my phone? What time is it? 10:15 PM. I'm tired. AmI forgetting something? Oh well. Sleep. What was that dream Ihad? I'll think about it until I go to sleep. A girl. Was she lost?No. Sad. Maybe alone? Yeah! I wonder if I'll actually find her. Ihope it's a girl. I need more friends. I should start a club. I shouldlay down. Is she mean? Will she like me? I'm nice enough. Whyam I worried? She's not real. Maybe she is. If I just think reallyhard. I'll close my eyes. I'll try calling out to her. "Hello?". Canshe even hear me? Maybe she doesn't want to be found. That'sstupid. Why would she call out? Focus and try again. "Can any-one hear me?". I'm too tired. One more time... "Hello!". I hope Ican find her.
Before the Usual Time is a vibrantly eclectic anthology of strong Indigenous voices from right across Turtle Island. From poetry to creative non-fiction to speculative fiction and more, the writing from each spirited storyteller is rich with heartfelt narration that transcends nations. This collection effectively demonstrates the beautiful diversity of Indigenous voices and experiences throughout this land, and the common threads of strength and resilience that bind them through time. It is both a poignant look back and a promising look ahead.
- Waubgeshig Rice, author of Moon of the Crusted Snow