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Education PhD candidate Michelle Sylliboy receives Published Poetry in English prize

September 01, 2020

Congratulations to doctoral candidate Michelle Sylliboy who tied to win the Published Poetry in English prize at the third annual Indigenous Voices Awards for her book Kiskajeyi—I am Ready (Rebel Mountain Press)!

"It felt really good to be acknowledged by my peers from the Indigenous writing community," says Sylliboy. "If you are to get any award, an acknowledgment from your peers it is a blessing." 

The hieroglyphic poetry book, the first of its kind, blends Sylliboy's passion and talent for modern poetry, photography, and Mi’kmaq (L'nuk) hieroglyphic poetry along with her Education PhD fieldwork.

"I always wanted my first book of poetry to be published in my language," says Sylliboy. "It wasn’t until I began my PhD at SFU that I started to think and process on a different level."

Sylliboy's inspiration to write the book came from her current research focusing on language revitalization. "The Komqwejwi’kasikl language is a huge part of the Mi’kmaq culture, and without the support of my elders, community and Rebel Mountain Press including the Faculty of Education, in particular SFU Graduate Studies, this book would not have been possible," says Sylliboy. 

The book was published to coincide with the United Nations' 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages and Sylliboy's Mi'kmaq hieroglyphic art exhibit in Nova Scotia. In addition to positive critical reviews, the book has had successful launches across Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, resulting in its third printing. 

"I wrote the book for future generations by planting a seed; like all cultures each generation does something to keep a language alive. This is my contribution."