A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

Book - 2019
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"A bold and profound work by Haudenosaunee writer Alicia Elliott, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is a personal and critical meditation on trauma, legacy, oppression and racism in North America. In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott offers indispensable insight and understanding to the ongoing legacy of colonialism. What are the links between depression, colonialism and loss of language--both figurative and literal? How does white privilege operate in different contexts? How do we navigate the painful contours of mental illness in loved ones without turning them into their sickness? How does colonialism operate on the level of literary criticism? A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is Alicia Elliott's attempt to answer these questions and more. In the process, she engages with such wide-ranging topics as race, parenthood, sexuality, love, mental illness, poverty, sexual assault, gentrification, writing and representation. Elliott makes connections both large and small between the past and present, the personal and political--from overcoming a years-long history with head lice to the way Native writers are treated within the Canadian literary industry; her unplanned teenage pregnancy to the history of dark matter and how it relates to racism in the court system; her childhood diet of Kraft dinner to how systematic oppression is linked to depression in Native communities. With deep consideration and searing prose, Elliott extends far beyond her own experiences to provide a candid look at our past, an illuminating portrait of our present and a powerful tool for a better future. "-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, 2019
ISBN: 9780385692380
Branch Call Number: 971. 00497 ELL 2019-03
Characteristics: 223 pages ; 22 cm

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A personal and critical meditation on trauma, legacy, oppression and racism in North America. With deep consideration and searing prose, Elliott extends far beyond her own experiences to provide a candid look at our past, an illuminating portrait of our present and a powerful tool for a better fu... Read More »


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SPL_jennifer Apr 30, 2020

Forest of Reading Evergreen 2020 nominee

Elliott’s book is a collection of her essays that deal with the central theme of her life as a First Nations person. It is her personal, raw, and painful history that is interspersed with moments of joy. From her nomadic upbringing to the birth of her first child, this Ontario author of the Six Nations at Grand River, frames Canada through a post-colonial lens. With both personal stories and academic information Elliott disassembles the white settler view of the world. It is a tough read from a voice that needs to be listened to.

Much of her story, however, is relatable to anyone who has ever experienced marginalization, oppression, or poverty. It is a book of evolution, in that as the reader reads they can see Elliott grow as a person. This book is for those who want to have their viewpoints challenged, those who enjoy memoirs and biographies, and those who are seeking a kindred author soul.
An excellent read, riveting and heart-breaking.

s
selfishgiant
Dec 13, 2019

Globe 100 2019. Non fiction. Author takes her place amongst essayist Samantha Irby and Roxanne Gay.

j
jdmm4ever
Dec 09, 2019

4 stars/5
This book of essays deserves wide readership. Ms Elliott writes about growing up in a challenging environment and how that has shaped her life. She has interesting perspectives which are thought provoking to say the least and challenges all of us to think about our attitudes.

r
ronandlynda
Nov 19, 2019

Named one of Chatelaine magazine's Buzziest Books of 2019

l
lj50
Oct 07, 2019

Fantastic insight into the intergenerational inheritance of trauma for Indigenous people,

liljables May 21, 2019

Dang, I just love an essay collection, and an essay collection from an up-and-coming Haudenosaunee writer makes my heart siiiing.

Essay collections don’t lend themselves to synopsizing, so I’ll share a few of my favourite chapters instead. On Seeing and Being Seen is a gorgeous piece about Elliott reading the work of another Indigenous woman (Leanne Betasamosake Simpson) for the first time, when she was twenty-five years old. The author tackles the issue of white authors throughout history using harmful stereotypes to depict an indigeneity that was palatable for white audiences, while Indigenous writers were overlooked entirely. In a similar vein, Not Your Noble Savage is a scathing indictment of “literary colonialism” within CanLit. The essay Scratch describes Elliott’s persistent head lice as a child, and how her family accepted their infestation as one of many cruel realities of poverty; even as a teenager, Elliott knew she wouldn’t be able to eradicate the pests until she left her family behind. The final offering in the book, Extraction Mentalities, leaves physical space for the reader to answer questions about abuse, gaslighting, and victimhood.

This collection is intellectual, philosophical, and deeply personal. Elliott has such a distinct and unique voice, and her essays are highly readable; they are somehow simultaneously meditative and urgent, and I know they’ll stay with me for a long time. I can’t wait to see what comes next from Alicia Elliott.

j
jeanie123
May 04, 2019

I can't say enough about this book and yet I don't know what to say in this review. The writing in this collection of essays is thoughtful, well-researched, brutally honest and lovingly open. Every person seeking an understanding of what Reconciliation means and why it is so necessary should read this book. Every white person wondering 'what is my role in the coloniolism of history?' should read this book. Every woman who has struggled with self-esteem should read this book. Every person who has survived a childhood that included poverty, addiction and/or mental illness should read this book. Every Canadian should read this book. It opened my eyes and cracked my mind open over and over, and I considered myself pretty open before I read it! Not even.

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