I’m hesitant to write a review of A Mind Spread out on the Ground. Not because I didn’t enjoy it – I really did, sneaking sessions of reading throughout my day and after my kids were in bed. Elliott’s writing is concise and her stories are compelling. The content is often heavy but Elliott grabs her reader and doesn’t let them go until the end. I hesitate because I don’t think I’m the right voice to critique what Elliott has to say.
There are a lot of themes that Elliott explores but race is primary among them. Elliott is Haudenosaunee, her father a member of this Indigenous tribe while her mother is white. Their family moved around frequently but did live on the reserve for some time. Race and its effects and being a minority and dealing with the generational trauma of residential schools and racist government policies are a huge part of what Elliott is talking about. She’s angry and she’ll make you angry too and I was left feeling a spotlight shone on my own white privilege.
So instead of reviewing this essay collection, I simply went to put Elliott’s writing in the spotlight instead. I want to say that Canadians should read this book. They should think about how it makes them feel and let those feelings of discomfort simmer and maybe think about what positive action can come out of that discomfort. Elliott talks about the first time she read writing from an Indigenous author that seemed to speak to her, to see her as a young Indigenous woman. There are not yet enough of these voices, which have been silenced, often violently, for too long. But Elliott is speaking out loud and clear and I’m glad to have the chance to listen to her.
(Alicia Elliott will be one of the featured authors at the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts this summer and I read A Mind Spread Out on the Ground as part of my Writers Fest 2019 challenge.)