In general, I am interested in the role that poetic language and form can play in the production of knowledge, and in the practice of concretely addressing issues of social justice. In other words, in my work I consider the ways in which language can be formally and contextually engaged to reconsider and potentially re-articulate the world. How might certain poetic practices undermine racist ideologies and colonialism, engendering ecological attentiveness, anomalous, and compassionate communities?
Because different forms of writing express different forms of life and different ways of thinking, poetic work merits inclusion in the array of thinking and writing practiced in the university — not just in the context of elective creative writing courses taken by a few students, but as an integral practice. Poetic forms can grant unexpected permissions and open startling potentials for the expansion of thought, the asking of questions, granting attention to the voices of others, and locating and creating knowledge.
All of my current projects are concerned with
what it means to be here, on Treaty Six territory, in this city, on this land,
in this country, on this planet, in a way that acknowledges and honours all my
obligations and all my relations, the complex web of connective tissues that
keep me here.
Arriving in Edmonton in 2007, from the West Coast, I began the Underbridge Project, a creative research work that considers the underbridge at Mill Creek Ravine as a focal point from which to investigate the colonial history of Edmonton, and Canada. In working on this project, I encountered many communities in Edmonton whose voices, experiences and expertise are most often absent from the University. Seeking to shift the conditions that isolate us from each other, I co-founded the Writing Revolution In Place Research Collective (WRIP) with Denis Lapierre from The Learning Centre Literacy Association. Now in its 7th year, the WRIP consists of researchers from the across Edmonton and the university. Together we conduct creative community-based research, with a focus on literacy and social justice. In 2013-2014, we conducted a sustained inquiry into the history of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and residential schools in Canada. In 2014-2015, in collaboration with the WRITE 494 class and Community Service Learning (CSL), we completed a grass roots public health research project called “Stigmergic Works: A Poetics of Health” (see article below for a description of this project). In 2015-2016, we were invited by research group from the University of Alberta and Kings University to participate in a project that seeks create an atlas of the Edmonton’s river valley from diverse perspectives. This project was entitled, “Where Are We When We Say That We Are Here?."
Please note: WRIP always welcomes new members from across the city and the university.
I teach experimental poetry, poetics and creative research in the WRITE Programme (English and Film Studies) and Indigenous literature and writing in the Transition Year Program (Faculty of Arts). In addition, I teach classes that work in collaboration with the Community Service Learning Certificate Programme. For more information on CSL classes: https://www.ualberta.ca/community-service-learning
I welcome graduate students who are working on a creative Master's Thesis, and all graduate students who are interested in poetics (specifically experimental and Indigenous poetics), and/or who are interested in community engagement and creative research.
I am very interested in collaborative research and teaching.
In 2016-2017, I worked with amiskwaciwiyiniwak, Papaschase scholar Dr. Dwayne Donald and nêhiyaw Elder Bob Cardinal in a six credit graduate class that began in Fall 2016 and ended in the Fall of 2017. The course offered a land-centred study that was based on the thirteen moons and the four-seasons as they shape and characterize the patterns of life and living that have existed in this northern plains region for thousands of years.
This course was supported by a Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund and the Faculty of Arts.
In 2017, I worked with nêhiyawewin teacher Reuben Quinn on a class called The Poetics of Treaty.
In 2018, in the Fall semester, we will be offering The Poetics of Treaty again.
This course is a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. In particular, we are answering the call to respect and honour treaties (10 vii) by conducting a study of our treaty, Treaty Six. Working regularly with nêhiyaw (Cree) instructor, Reuben Quinn, we are studying nêhiyaw (Cree) concepts of treaty and traditional nêhiyaw understandings of Treaty Six. The central aim of this class is to understand Treaty Six as a living document. By learning how the basic principles of Treaty Six are embedded in the nêhiyaw language, and by studying the concept of treaty as it is understood by nêhiyaw scholars and Elders, we hope to understand: what it means to live on Treaty Six land, what our obligations are to each other, how we might speak to each other with compassion and in terms that we can all understand and how we can be here, together, as treaty people, in a good way.
This course was supported in part by SSHRC funding and Faculty of Arts funding and is currently being supported by Faculty of Arts funding.
I am just finishing a manuscript in which I consider the deictic and a poetics of Treaty Six. See “This” in the poetry journal Dusie for a published excerpt of this work:
http://www.dusie.blogspot.ca/2015/01/tuesday-poem-92-christine-stewart-this.html. The book is forthcoming with Talon Books in the Fall of 2018.
I am also compiling a manuscript of the underbridge work that was conducted, in part, with local photographer Les Danyluk and Vancouver composer Jacquie Leggatt. For published sections of this research see “Propositions from Under Mill Creek Bridge” in Sustaining the West (Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2015), and “On Treaty Six, under the Mill Creek Bridge” in Toward. Some. Air. (Banff Centre Press, 2015).