Burning in this Midnight Dream
by Louise Halfe
In heart-wrenching detail, Louise Halfe recalls the damage done by the residential schools to her parents, her family, and herself in her new poetry collection.
Winner of three 2017 Saskatchewan Book Awards:
Indigenous Peoples' Publishing
Rasmussen, Rasmussen & Charowsky Indigenous Peoples' Writing
Saskatchewan Arts Board Poetry Award
Winner, League of Canadian Poets Raymond Souster Award
Burning in this Midnight Dream is the latest collection of poems by Louise Bernice Halfe. Many were written in response to the grim tide of emotions, memories, dreams and nightmares that arose in her as the Truth and Reconciliation process unfolded.
With fearlessly wrought verse, Halfe describes how the experience of the residential schools continues to haunt those who survive, and how the effects pass like a virus from one generation to the next. She asks us to consider the damage done to children taken from their families, to families mourning their children; damage done to entire communities and to ancient cultures.
Halfe’s poetic voice soars in this incredibly moving collection as she digs deep to discover the root of her pain. Her images, created from the natural world, reveal the spiritual strength of her culture.
Praise for Burning in this Midnight Dream:
“Louise Bernice Halfe’s new poetry collection reminds me of a famous quote from Emily Dickinson. She wrote in a letter to a friend: ‘If I read a book, and it makes my body so cold no fire can warm me, I know that is poetry.’ Louise Bernice Halfe’s new book is titled, Burning in this Midnight Dream, and I know it’s poetry. It packs a punch. It packs a wallop.” - Shelagh Rogers, The Next Chapter
"In her fourth poetry collection, Burning in This Midnight Dream, Louise Bernice Halfe hath achieved a canonical work of Anglo-Canadian letters, one that will always be as relevant as the Constitution and First Nations and Crown Treaties." - George Elliott Clarke for The Malahat Review
"Louise Bernice Halfe's crucial new work follows a profound journey of personal reconciliation that is essential and timely. With beautiful, raw, and stunning poetic storytelling, Burning in this Midnight Dream powerfully demonstrates the damage inflicted by Canada's residential school system. The verses are both heartbreaking and hopeful, with a focus on a healing connection with Cree language and culture." - Judges, 2017 Saskatchewan Book Awards Indigenous Peoples' Publishing Award (Winner)
"It is no easy feat to look atrocity in the eye and not blink. The poems in Burning in this Midnight Dream lie somewhere between song and cry. There is a rawnee to the writing that is authentic, courageous and blessedly devoid of sentimentality. Haunted, and accompanied, by her ancestors, Halfe has mined the personal and given us a deeply human work that speaks eloquently to the nature of suffering and reslilience." - Judges, 2017 Saskatchewan Book Awards Saskatoon Book Award (Finalist)
"Burning in this Midnight Dream deploys a startling sensitivity to details around her to build poems that bristle with human vividness and political charge. This memorable, musical book of portraits and events is an address to the silence in official histories - silences created strategically by the circumscribing effects of good taste and national shame." - Judges, 2017 Saskatchewan Book Awards Poetry Award (WInner)
"Burning in this Midnight Dream brings readers on a deep dive, moving us beyond generalities and into the human experience inside of colonialization processes and resistance. Positioned in relation to national Truth and Reconciliation efforts, and at times directly responding to the unearthing of ghosts and painful truths both personal and collective, Halfe's poetry is a soaring healing gift from a master poet." - 2017 Saskatchewan Book Awards Indigenous Peoples' Writing Award (WInner)