BONES

Poems about a young two-spirit Indigenous person moving through shadow and trauma toward strength and awareness.

“Pennock’s shifting, expansive book-length poem luminously reflects the scattered fragments of memory with language that fluiding mixes abstraction, reflection and recurrent imagery. Bones gradually unveils the pain and trauma that seeps through time and relations, in a way that mimics the heart’s unveiling itself. His touchstones of Indigenous ceremony and ritual grounds the collection in a way that navigates the reader through a rich archeology of bones that are not merely relics, but oracles.”

Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, LCP

Shortlisted for the 2021 Indigenous Voices Award for Published Poetry in English

Shortlisted for the 2021 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award

Longlisted for the 2021 Raymond Souster Award

Under the moonlight

the softness that night gives us –

the earth rising to meet

in snow, or the glow of trilliums

where there is enough sound in a breath

in here

I speak


Bones, Tyler Pennock’s wise and arresting debut, is about the ways we process the traumas of our past, and about how often these experiences eliminate moments of softness and gentleness. Here, poems journey inward, guided by the world of dreams, seeking memories of a loving sister lost beneath layers of tragedy and abuse. With bravery, these poems stand up to the demons lurking in the many shadows of their lines, seeking glimpses of a good that is always just out of reach.

Cover Image by Ovila Mailhot

At moments heartrending and gut-punching, at others still and sweet, Bones is a collection of deep and painstaking work that examines the human spirit in all of us. This is a hero’s journey and a stark look at the many conditions of the soul. This is a book for survivors, for fighters, for dreamers, and for believers.


“Tyler Pennock’s Bones is a soft meandering through the memories of the narrator’s hearthome: a place in which trauma, kinship, abuse, and nostalgia cradle one another in a circle. Here, poetics are deployed to inspect the most minute of objects with such wild abandon that the narrator transplants us into a world rife with sharpness so as to make the image complete, focussed, lifelike, photographic even as he continually ‘wish[es he] were like water’. Here we find memory and dream animated in equal measure: two spirits sitting in a basement, a headless mother, a white bear, wihtiko, and a sister slowly vanishing. Lyrical, witty, heart-wrenching, and empowering, Pennock’s debut book of poetry is a contemplative epic asking us to ponder the ethics of remembrance in all of its lacings of razing and revitalization.”

~ Joshua Whitehead, author of Full-Metal Indigiqueer and Jonny Appleseed

“Here is a spare and urgent voice that speaks of ‘wounds and beauty,’ that gestures to a story of trauma and abuse while offering us a potent journey of self-reckoning and reclamation. Bones entwines brutality with the deepest tenderness and in its clear-eyed way asks us, as poetry must, to re-see the world.”

~ Catherine Bush, author of Accusation and The Rules of Engagement

“Tyler Pennock’s poetry unfurls like breath: measured, light, caught, whispering, and vital. It charts memory with a steady hand and unerring allegiance to locating the ‘beauty/in terrible things.’ Bones addresses the effects of intergenerational, state-sponsored trauma with an enviable grace, inscribing and affirming life on the other side of overwhelming pain, abuse, and grief. It carries on, resilient, defiant, gazing at the stars, one breath at a time.”

~ Laurie D. Graham, author of Settler Education


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