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Massy Interviews / Justene Dion-Glowa

On Thursday, October 6 at 6pm, join Massy ArtsMassy Books, and Indigenous authors Justene Dion-Glowa and Tyler Pennock for An Evening of Daring Dreams, a double launch event of their books Trailer Park Shakes (2022, Brick Books) and Blood (2022, Brick Books).

At this in-person event, Dion-Glowa and Pennock will be joined by guest host Denise McCuiag for a night to celebrate literature, and to question how creative writing can be a platform to address injustice, violence, community, and connection.

This event is free + open to all of our community, and registration is mandatory.

The gallery is wheelchair accessible and a gender-neutral washroom is on-site.

Covid Protocols: For all in-person events, attendees must provide proof of vaccination, wear a mask (N95 masks are encouraged and recommended as they offer the best protection), and consent to having their temperature checked at the front door. We ask that if you are showing any symptoms, that you stay home. Thank you kindly.

Please be sure to register for this event.

You can purchase Blood by Tyler Pennock at Massy Books.

You can purchase Trailer Park Shakes by Justene Dion-Glowa at Massy Books.

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To celebrate An Evening of Daring Dreams, Rafael Zen interviews Dion-Glowa for Massy Arts, investigating literary voices from the Métis working-class, and addressing the book’s quietly philosophical tone with a heartfelt self-possessed sense of politics.

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Justene Dion-Glowa / Existence is resistance

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Rafael Zen – Your book synopsis describes you as a working-class Métis voice rarely heard from. What do you think of this description? What would this voice be?

Justene Dion-Glowa – I think among the Métis I may have a common voice, but I think the Métis are called the forgotten or invisible people for a reason. Beyond notions of blood quantum, there is a culture uniquely Métis that often must be explained to Indigenous and white people alike.

While I will not claim to speak for anyone but myself, I think there is a relatability to these works for those who are Métis and living with all the things that come with that – poverty, trauma, having Indigenous relatives and having white relatives, the beauty of ceremony clashing with the indoctrination of colonialism.

All those things are represented in this work.

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RZ – Why the title “Trailer Park Shakes”? What do you think it evokes from what readers may find inside this collection? Is there a poem that you think encapsulates the dialogue you wanted to establish with your audience? If so, could you share it with our readers?

JDG – The title came about years ago before I had any idea anyone would be interested in publishing my works. I think it sounds cool and intriguing for a start, but I also think it evokes certain feelings. I think we still stigmatize trailer parks as the bastion of the poor.

The line itself comes from a poem in the book called Shakes that I think encapsulates the feeling of the work as a whole. My generation has been sold a false ideal that isn’t attainable. And even if you do attain it, you’ll still be stigmatized and looked down on, even by your own self, since it’s not the expectation you set for yourself.

There’s nothing anyone can do but escape into the mystery of the unseen – culture, dreams, spirituality, magic – whatever word you use to describe that for yourself. That’s why some of the works are more ethereal or sardonic, to balance the harsh reality I’m exploring with the hidden beauty of the world and the idea that you’ve got to laugh to keep from crying.




The trailer park shakes when the trains go

by I can’t tell yet if it’s a comfort or a curse


I always loved the sound of trains in the distance.


You can hear every word of conversation going on next door

And the other neighbours don’t like weed smoke.


The heater grinds. It’s so loud it could tear the roof off

But we’ve got a washer and dryer so I don’t have to go to the

laundromat anymore.


There’s a skylight in the kitchen where sunlight dances onto the

floor and dazzles the kids who come over

and the stars twinkle in our eyes when the nights are clear.


Our fence is broken. Pretty badly. Same with the deck. And the

stairs But the view from here is spectacular

The river and the mountains

And the trains that shake the house.


In the back is a mountainside

The desert type

Very sandy soil though there are a lot of pines up that way. A lot of sage too

My cat plays out there

He is quite the hunter so we don’t get a lot of mice in the house



There’re some garden beds out back

too Maybe we’ll plant in the spring.


My bedroom is quite big now

It’s nice to have a big space to call your own

Usually I give the kids the biggest room to

share But not this time.


I wonder if the kids know they’re poor

I wonder if it has dawned on them just

yet I don’t think it has

I don’t think they know how close they live to

ruin I never did.


That’s what a good parent is

Able to hide the worst of the situation

and bring out the best


You don’t have to be rich to have a good life but it helps I guess.


I don’t remember feeling poor

But I remember my dad working 3 jobs

And I remember the day I realized that even though I thought

all it took was hard work to get ahead in life

it actually takes a garbage bag of weed and a lot of

clients and after 20 years

you’ll still be in the shit.


But they don’t tell you



And it’s hard to remember when you get older

that no one ever really did it on the level

anyway That everything you thought you


about how to be an effective adult is just misinformation

That it really is just one fucked up situation after another

in a never-ending loop.

But that doesn’t mean the world is out to get you

It just means that’s all the world has to offer at this time.


Frankly it’s not surprising that no matter how steady I start to

feel the train still makes the whole house shake.


My dad used to tell me that the sound of the trains used to make him cry

but he didn’t know why

Maybe intergenerational trauma got

him the way it gets all us imperfect

simpletons just trying to make it to next pay day.


When the trailer park shakes

I wonder if my mother had a trailer

that shook too

I wonder why we always end up going full circle 19

I wonder how it is that no matter how hard we have worked

we never really make it

I wonder how at 14 she managed to raise a kid

And how 11 months later she had 2 to take care


How she stuck by this man who knocked up a child

and had the audacity to call her wife

I wonder how she went to school and worked and fed us Then I realize why I

don’t need to wonder why she fucked up so badly

none of us talk to her anymore And one of us is


already dead.


My trailer isn’t much

But it’s these people who make it a home Cuz a house is just

a box

Kind of like a body is for the soul.


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RZ – The synopsis also says that these poems are quietly philosophical with a heartfelt self-possessed politic. Do you consider your poetry to be political and philosophical? What can a poem do regarding politics? And finally, who is your reader?

JDG – I consider existing political. Existence is resistance. And poems cannot ‘do’, they can only be. And that’s what I think is missing from the human experience lately… we’re human beings not human doings. In terms of philosophy, I think all writing is.

All writing is exploring reality, existence, and knowledge. I hope my reader is someone who has had similar challenging experiences in life that can see themselves reflected in these poems and know they are not alone.

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RZ – Who are your influences to write poetry? Do you see any of them amalgamated into your poems?

JDG – I’m unfortunately most inspired by negative feelings like trauma, grief, and sadness. But I find poetry a productive outlet for this. I suppose the ‘who’ would be family. I’ve had to wrestle with the idea that we are all suffering from trauma, and that determines how we interact, and that means we miss one another’s feelings often.

Lateral violence in families is something we all prefer not to talk about. There’s a focus on independence and growing up that I’ve tried to stay away from in my own home, as I believe families are meant to support one another for life. We used to live in communal ways that better supported this ideal, with multiple generations having daily connection.

All of this is reflected in this collection.

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RZ – If your book had a main question, what would this question be? Do you think you could answer this question with one of your poems’ titles? Why this one?

JDG – I suppose this book is an answer to someone asking me ‘Who are you?’. There is no single poem that answers that, but certainly the book in its entirety can provide some insight.

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