Daniel David Moses: Spoken and Written Explorations of His Work ed. by Tracey Lindberg and David Brundage (review)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by
Tracey Lindberg and David Brundage, eds. Daniel David Moses: Spoken and Written Explorations of His Work. Guernica Editions. viii, 472. $25.00

A unique feature of this collection of writings about the work of Indigenous Canadian writer Daniel David Moses is the incorporation of ''spoken explorations'' of Moses's work. The inclusion of personal interviews with Moses, his family, and other Indigenous writers allows the reader to appreciate the breadth of Moses's influence. Moses, who teaches in the English Department at Queen's University, has enriched the lives of his peers through his generosity to the arts community, his gentle [End Page 306] activism, as well as through his poetry, essays, plays, and narrative writing. The Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research at Athabasca University has participated in the process of researching and gathering material for this volume. The contributors include Indigenous and non-Indigenous creative and scholarly writers from both national and international contexts.

The collection focuses on roughly the first three quarters of Moses's present body of work, particularly his poetry and plays. The first four pieces in the book, contributed by David Brundage and Don Perkins, introduce the reader to Moses's family heritage as a Delaware First Nations artist growing up in the Iroquois Six Nations reserve. Brundage gives a brief overview of Moses's poetry and plays, beginning with his first book of poetry, Delicate Bodies (1980), to his play-in-progress at the time of publication, Crazy Dave Goes to Town, inspired by Basil Johnson's memoir, Crazy Dave. The biographical notes touch on Moses's upbringing in the Anglican Church, which he eschewed after his confirmation, his formal education (BA, York University; MFA in Creative Writing, UBC), and his poetics, based on Indigenous oral traditions.

The next two pieces in the collection, by Kristina Fagan Bidwell and Randy Lundy, respectively, examine Moses's poetry. Bidwell focuses on the imagery in Delicate Bodies, while Lundy situates Moses as an Indigenous writer exercising the power of the Word to create and heal. Following these contributions is a 1999 interview of Moses by Brundage, which bookends the remaining pieces with a 2015 interview of Moses by Tracey Lindberg. These interviews establish the trajectory of Moses's work. Finishing the poetry section of the volume is Moses's poem ''A Ride Like Miss Johnson's 'Wild Cat.'''

The weightiest section of the book includes essays, interviews, and a round table discussion that focus mainly on Moses's City Plays (Coyote City (1988), Big Buck City (1991), Kyotopolis (1993), and City of Shadows (1995)) and Almighty Voice and His Wife (1991). Lindberg addresses the idea of the writer as translator and separately interviews playwright Drew Hayden Taylor; Perkins writes of ''exposing the city''; Rob Appleford discusses Moses's predilection for ''ghost writing''; Maria Campbell, Lindberg, Brenda Macdougall, and Greg Scofield discuss ''identity, identification and authenticity'' in Almighty Voice and His Wife; Jo-Ann Episkenew tackles ''the madness of colonial policies and the aesthetics of resistance''; and Helen Gilbert speaks to the practice of contemporary Indigenous minstrelsy. For theatre scholars and practitioners there is much to consider from these writers.

What seems an anomaly in this book that focuses on poetry and drama is Brundage's essay on Moses's short story ''King of the Raft.'' What I take from this essay is a critical window into the summer world of Moses's [End Page 307] boyhood alongside the Grand River in the Six Nations' reserve in southern Ontario.

Moses's second contribution to the book, his radio play, ''My Grandfather's Face,'' traces the journey of a Delaware mask from Anglican Church appropriation to its return to the Six Nations Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ontario. This radio play brings the volume full circle to Moses's home territory and heritage. Closing the book is a brief biography of Moses's education, publications, and awards.

As well as highlighting Daniel David Moses as an important and influential Indigenous poet and playwright, this volume contributes to building the world of Indigenous literature and theatre. Moses is a writer at his maturity; to examine the oeuvre of his work to date is to...


pdf