Event: Unmarketable Lives

Image courtesy of EVENT magazine.

Perhaps the greatest fallacy of markets is that, if an artist makes queer work, that work will only be sellable to queer audiences. I have felt these tensions too. At the onset of my career, I was consistently told by my peers in Indigenous literature and scholarship that my writing was queer, not Indigenous, because it didn’t deal with the normative aesthetics of indigeneity. The queer / Indigenous binary in Indigenous literature always seemed ironic to me because Indigenous literary industries have long argued the falsehood of similar construction: Indigenous literature is not marketable to Canadian audiences. In fact, some of Indigenous literature’s most seminal writers, such as Lee Maracle and Alicia Elliot, have disproved the marketability myth of Indigenous literature. The fact that my award was nominated for a Quebec Writer’s Federation Award, winning in one category, by one of the longest-standing literary communities in Canada, amongst it some of the most traditional and formalist writers in CanLit, further proves that, in this literary future, identity is no longer a limitation for writing but just another way to approach storytelling; another point of access.

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