Memoir Series: Darrel McLeodMonday, December 9, 2019 @ 7:00pm - 8:30 p.m.
Our new Memoir Reading Series continues with Darrel McLeod’s debut memoir Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age. Poet Steffan Triplett will moderate the discussion.
As a small boy in remote Alberta, Darrel J. McLeod is immersed in his Cree family’s history, passed down in the stories of his mother, Bertha. There he is surrounded by her tales of joy and horror—of the strong men in their family, of her love for Darrel, and of the cruelty she and her sisters endured in residential school—as well as his many siblings and cousins, and the smells of moose stew and wild peppermint tea. And there young Darrel learns to be fiercely proud of his heritage and to listen to the birds that will guide him throughout his life.
But after a series of tragic losses, Bertha turns wild and unstable, and their home life becomes chaotic. Sweet and eager to please, Darrel struggles to maintain his grades and pursue interests in music and science while changing homes, witnessing domestic violence, caring for his younger siblings, and suffering abuse at the hands of his brother-in-law. Meanwhile, he begins to question and grapple with his sexual identity—a reckoning complicated by the repercussions of his abuse and his sibling’s own gender transition.
Thrillingly written in a series of fractured vignettes, and unflinchingly honest, Mamaskatch—“It’s a wonder!” in Cree—is a heartbreaking account of how traumas are passed down from one generation to the next, and an uplifting story of one individual who overcame enormous obstacles in pursuit of a fulfilling and adventurous life.
Darrel J. McLeod is Cree from treaty eight territory in Northern Alberta. His first book, Mamaskatch, received the Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction. Before deciding to pursue writing in his retirement, he was a chief negotiator of land claims for the federal government and executive director of education and international affairs with the Assembly of First Nations. He holds degrees in French literature and education from the University of British Columbia. He lives in Sooke, British Columbia.
Steffan Triplett is a Black, creative nonfiction writer and instructor, born and raised in southwest Missouri. Invested in media and the arts, Steffan has served as Co-Editor-In-Chief for the literary magazine Hot Metal Bridge, held positions for the National Book Foundation and the Andy Warhol Museum, and currently serves as an Essays Reader at The Offing. His nonfiction has been featured in Essay Daily and has been published in Longreads, Electric Literature, DIAGRAM, Slate, and Wildness, where it was nominated for “Best of the Net.” Steffan’s work has been anthologized in Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color (Nightboat Books, 2018), and the forthcoming Revisiting the Elegy in the Black Lives Matter Era (Routledge, 2020). Steffan has been a fellow for Lambda Literary, Callaloo, and VONA/Voices, and is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis where he was a John B. Ervin Scholar. He received his MFA in Nonfiction from the University of Pittsburgh.
Memoir Series Schedule: