Sunday, October 31, 2021

Highly Recommended! Spílexm: A Weaving of Recovery, Resilience, and Resurgence, by Nicola I. Campbell


Spílexm: A Weaving of Recovery, Resilience, and Resurgence

Written by Nicola I. Campbell (Nłeʔkepmx, Syilx, and Métis)
Cover illustration by Published in 2021
Publisher: Highwater Press
Reviewer: Debbie Reese
Review Status: Highly Recommended


Today's Short and Sweet Rec is for Nicola I. Campbell's memoir, Spílexm: A Weaving of Recovery, Resilience, and Resurgence. I'll begin with the description from the publisher's site:

If the hurt and grief we carry is a woven blanket, it is time to weave ourselves anew.

In the Nłeʔkepmxcín language, spíləx̣m are remembered stories, often shared over tea in the quiet hours between Elders. Rooted within the British Columbia landscape, and with an almost tactile representation of being on the land and water, Spíləx̣m explores resilience, reconnection, and narrative memory through stories.

Captivating and deeply moving, this story basket of memories tells one Indigenous woman’s journey of overcoming adversity and colonial trauma to find strength through creative works and traditional perspectives of healing, transformation, and resurgence.

And now, the Short and Sweet Rec:

First, Nicola I Campbell is Nłeʔkepmx, Syilx, and Métis, and she's written several excellent books we've recommended before, such as Shin-Chi's Canoe. 

Second: "remembered stories." I don't know why, but those two words are--for me--searing and joyous within the same instance. It it like an eruption of emotion within me. 

Third, the table of contents. I love the words I find in Campbell's picture books. There's a quiet and compassion and strength to them. I see that in the words of the table of contents that tells us what is coming. There are ten sections in this memoir, meant for young adults. These section titles nest within the book's subtitle, A Weaving of Recovery, Resilience, and Resurgence.  
Prairie Letters
Her Blood is from Spetetkw 
Nłeʔkepmxcín Lullaby
Land Teachings
Coming to my Senses
yemít and merímstn 
this body is a mountain, this body is the land

The section titles hint at recovery. Reading through the entries in each one, I was at times on edge, anxious. Afraid. And laughing. That deer in the basement... that made me laugh, and evoked in me, a remembered story. Or many, really, because at Nambé, our guys hunt and bring deer home. Like the child in this particular story (titled Little People), I remember that moment, walking into a room and there, right there, was a deer.

Fourth, Campbell's use of words. In some instances, she uses poetry. In others she uses story. Some words are in her languages, and some are in English. It isn't ever jarring. It just is. Is, in the way that Native people speak when they use words of their language mixed in with English. It just is. And arrangement of those words! When I turned the page to "alpine mountains" I just looked, for a minute or so. And I was delighted when I turned to "frog whisperers." 


From those Prairie Letters about Nikki's birth, through her childhood, her teen years, college, and deaths in the subsequent sections... I release a deep sigh when I get to the end. And as I look back on what I'm saying in this review as I revisit the book, I see some ambiguity, some hesitation in how much to say. I want you to find it, yourself. 

*A Short and Sweet Rec is not an in-depth analysis. It is our strategy to tell you that we recommend a book we have read. We will definitely refer to it in book chapters and articles we write, and in presentations we do. Our Short and Sweet Recs include four reasons why we recommend the book.

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