The Punishment is the latest addition to the oeuvre of prolific Kwantlen writer Joseph Dandurand, whose stunning previous collection, The East Side of It All, was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize.
In The Punishment, Joseph Dandurand’s now-familiar storyteller’s voice wrangles trauma, grief, forgiveness and love. His poems illustrate the poet’s solitary existence. With scenes of residential school, the psych ward, the streets and the river, Dandurand reveals an arduous journey: one poet’s need to both understand his life and find ways to escape it. Through poetry, he shares with us all his lovers. He shares the streets. He shares what he sees: the great eagles and small birds; his culture and teachings; the East Side; self-pity; the deception of love; the deception of hate; sasquatches; spirits; and his people, the Kwantlen.
At root, The Punishment is about survival. Dandurand’s poems will show you disease. They’ll show you cedar. They’ll show you music. They’ll show you shadows. They’ll show you forgiveness, and they’ll show you punishment.