Award-winning Nisga'a poet Jordan Abel's third collection, Injun, is a long poem about racism and the representation of indigenous peoples. Composed of text found in western novels published between 1840 and 1950 - the heyday of pulp publishing and a period of unfettered colonialism in North America - Injun then uses erasure, pastiche, and a focused poetics to create a visually striking response to the western genre.After compiling the online text of 91 of these now public-domain novels into one gargantuan document, Abel used his word processor's "Find" function to search for the word "injun." The 509 results were used as a study in context: How was this word deployed? What surrounded it? What was left over once that word was removed? Abel then cut up the sentences into clusters of three to five words and rearranged them into the long poem that is Injun. The book contains the poem as well as peripheral material that will help the reader to replicate, intuitively, some of the conceptual processes that went into composing the poem. Though it has been phased out of use in our "post-racial" society, the word "injun" is peppered throughout pulp western novels. Injun retraces, defaces, and effaces the use of this word as a colonial and racial marker. While the subject matter of the source text is clearly problematic, the textual explorations in Injun help to destabilize the colonial image of the "Indian" in the source novels, the western genre as a whole, and the Western canon.
Jordan Abel is a Nisga'a writer from Vancouver. His debut poetry collection, The Place of Scraps (Talonbooks, 2013), was awarded the BC Book Prizes' Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Abel was an editor for Poetry Is Dead magazine and the former poetry editor for PRISM international and Geist. He holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia and a BA from the University of Alberta. His work has been published in journals and magazines across Canada, including CV2, The Capilano Review, Prairie Fire, dANDelion, ARC Poetry Magazine, Descant, Broken Pencil, OCW Magazine, filling Station, Grain, and Canadian Literature. His chapbooks Scientia and Injun have been published by above/ground press and JackPine Press, respectively.