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Billy-Ray Belcourt Books In Order

Publication Order of Collections

This Wound Is a World (2017)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A History of My Brief Body (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Billy-Ray Belcourt
Billy-Ray Belcourt is an academic and a writer from the Driftpile Cree Nation. He works as an Assistant Professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia.

He earned his PhD in English at the University of Alberta, as a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar. His research focused on what he termed the “Indigenous paranormal” in poetry, film, and art that Indigenous peoples have produced in the region that is currently known as Canada.

Billy-Ray was also a 2016 Rhodes Scholar and has a Master’s degree in Women’s Studies from the University of Oxford and Wadham College. His master’s thesis focused around Indigenous women’s role in social resistance movements and is called Decolonial Sight: Indigenous Feminist Protest and the World-to-Come.

While attending the University of Alberta, he was involved actively as “an advocate for LGBTQ and Indigenous communities”, which included serving as the Aboriginal Student Council president. He is a Youth Facilitator with the Native Youth Sexual Health Network.

He was awarded a 2019 Inspire Award, which is the highest honor the Indigenous community bestows on its own leaders in the First Nations Youth category.

Billy-Ray grew up in the community of Driftpile in northern Alberta. He was raised by his grandparents and started writing poetry around the age of nineteen.

Belcourt was an active poet and writer during his entire university career, and published his first book in the year 2017, called “This Wound is a World”.

“The Wound is a World” won the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2018, which made him the youngest ever to win it and the 2018 Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize. The book was also named the Most Significant Book of Poetry in English by an Emerging Indigenous Writer at the 2018 Indigenous Voices Awards.

His second poetry collection, “NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field” is a national bestseller. The book “cements” (according to Open Book) Billy-Ray as one of the most creative writers and imaginative in the entire country.

He was named by CBC Books as a “Writer to know”, one of 18 emerging writers to watch, and one of “14 Canadian poets to watch” in 2018. That same year, he was also named one of “ten young Canadians to watch” by the CBC.

Billy-Ray’s works encompasses various themes and topics, which include grief, queer sexuality, intimacy, love, and the role of Indigenous women in social resistance.

“The Wound is a World” is the first poetry collection that was released in the year 2017. Part memoir, part manifesto, this collection is an invitation to rip a hole in the sky to world inside. Billy-Ray issues a call out to turn sex and love to comprehend how Indigenous peoples shoulder pain and sadness like theirs without giving up on the future.

His poems play with form and upset genre, scavenging for a decolonial sort of heaven where everybody is at least a little bit gay.

Readers found this book to be a poignant, joyful, painful exploration of indignity. Billy-Ray is a genius at communicating the truths about his own body and its most tremendous grace in this broken world.

“NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field” is the second poetry collection that was released in the year 2019. Billy-Ray aims an anthropological eye at the realities of your everyday life to show how they truly house the violence that continues to reverberate from the long twentieth century. In this genre-bending constellation of photography, poetry, poetics, and redaction, Belcourt argues ultimately that if signifiers of Indigenous suffering take place everywhere, so too is evidence of Indigenous peoples’ rogue possibility, their utopian drive.

The poet takes on the political demands of queerness, the mainstream depictions of Indigenous life, love as well as its dicontents, and the uses and limits of poetry as a vehicle for Indigenous liberation. In this process, he once again demonstrates his extraordinary guile, craft, and audacity, not to mention the sheer dexterity of his imagination.

Belcourt delivers a collection of poetry that is powerful, provocative, and genre-bending new piece of work that uses the modes of interrogation and accusation.

“A History of My Brief Body” is Billy-Ray’s memoir that was released in the year 2020. The youngest ever winner of the Griffin Prize mines his personal history in an intelligent new essay collection seeking to reconcile the world that he was born into the world that might be.

This memoir opens up with a tender letter to his kokum and memories about his early life in the hamlet of Joussard, Alberta, and on the Driftpile First Nation. Billy-Ray’s writings, piece by piece, invite us all to unpack and explore the broken and big world that he inhabits each day, in all its contradiction and complexity. A legacy of colonial violence and the joy that flourishes in spite of it, sexual exploration and intimacy, first loves and first loves lost, the very act of writing as a survival instinct and a way to grieve.

What emerges isn’t just a profound meditation on gender, ecstasy, memory, anger, and shame, however is also the outline of a way forward. With rather startling honesty, and in a voice distinctly and most assuredly his own, he situates his life experiences within a constellation of seminal queer texts, which this book has to certainly earn its place. The book is excessively quotable, eye-opening, and intensely emotional, it demonstrates again and again the power of words to both devastate and console us.

Billy-Ray delivers a book that is stunning, one that readers cannot stop thinking about because it demands more them as an artist and as a reader. The book is thunderous in the way that great art will crack open your previously held notions about what was possible. This short book is a powerhouse of beautiful, brilliant brutally honestly writing. Fans of the book found these to be some of the most intelligent and poetic essays that they had read in a long time, and found themselves thinking by the end of it all that they didn’t realize anybody could do this in their writing.

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