Message Sticks (Tshissinuatshitakana)

Translated from the French into English by Phyllis Aronoff.

This bilingual work (English and Innu-aimun) is an invitation to dialogue. Message sticks are the signs that allow the nomadic Innu to orient themselves inland and find their way. The poetry brings the language of the nutshimit (the back country) to life again, recalling the sound of the drum. Simple and beautiful, Joséphine Bacon’s poetry is an homage to the land, the ancestors, and the Innu-aimun language. Charting unwritten history, it provides a vision into the intensity of the elders’ words.

“Joséphine Bacon has written a moving and necessary collection of poems.”
–Tristan Malavoy-Racine, Voir

Bâtons à message / Tshissinuatshitakana, Joséphine Bacon’s first collection of poetry, is one of those books you want to give to a friend, saying, “Here, drink in this light.'”
–Denise Brassard, Inter, art actuel

“It is rare that one reads a poet as refined and precise as Bacon, a poet with an authentic and personal voice who truly has something to say, a message to transmit and share.”
–Jean-Sébastien Ménard, Terra Nova

“On the brink of catastrophe, the poet always finds the way of beauty.”
–Jade Bérubé, La Presse


Publication Date: June 2013

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-927494-09-7
Page size: 5″ x 7.5″
140 pages

Joséphine Bacon is an aboriginal person from Betsiamites. Director of film documentaries, she is equal parts poet and songwriter. Her songs, which include Mishapan Nitassinan, are performed by Chloé Sainte-Marie. She has recently published a series of poems in Aimititau! Parlons-nous!  In 2014 she was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award and in May 2010, she was awarded the Prix des lecteurs du Marché de la Poésie de Montréal for her poem “Dessine-moi l’arbre,” from her book Message Sticks/ Tshissinuatshitakana. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the Order of Montréal as well as a Companion of the Order of Arts and Letters of Quebec. She was the subject of a 2020 documentary, Call Me Human (Je m’appelle humain). She lives in Montreal.