A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

Book - 2019
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"A bold and profound meditation on trauma, legacy, oppression and racism in North America from award-winning Haudenosaunee writer Alicia Elliott. In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about the treatment of Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott offers indispensable insight into the ongoing legacy of colonialism. She engages with such wide-ranging topics as race, parenthood, love, mental illness, poverty, sexual assault, gentrifcation, writing and representation, and in the process makes connections both large and small between the past and present, the personal and political—from overcoming a years-long battle with head lice to the way Native writers are treated within the Canadian literary industry; her unplanned teenage pregnancy to the history of dark matter and how it relates to racism in the court system; her childhood diet of Kraft Dinner to how systemic oppression is directly linked to health problems in Native communities. With a deep consideration and searing prose, Elliott provides a candid look at our past, an illuminating portrait of our present and a powerful tool for a better future." --Amazon
Publisher: Toronto :, Doubleday Canada,, 2019
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9780385692380
Characteristics: 223 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

liljables May 21, 2019

Dang, I just love an essay collection, and an essay collection from an up-and-coming Haudenosaunee writer makes my heart siiiing.

Essay collections don’t lend themselves to synopsizing, so I’ll share a few of my favourite chapters instead. On Seeing and Being Seen is a gorgeous piece about Ell... Read More »

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STPL_Chantelle Oct 20, 2020

This book is such a heartbreaking but beautifully written memoir that not only sheds a brilliant light upon depression and mental illness but also on the intersectionality of Indigenous Canadian oppression and mental illness among their populations. A very relevant and timely discussion that every Canadian should read.

SPL_jennifer Apr 30, 2020

Forest of Reading Evergreen 2020 nominee

Elliott’s book is a collection of her essays that deal with the central theme of her life as a First Nations person. It is her personal, raw, and painful history that is interspersed with moments of joy. From her nomadic upbringing to the birth of her first child, this Ontario author of the Six Nations at Grand River, frames Canada through a post-colonial lens. With both personal stories and academic information Elliott disassembles the white settler view of the world. It is a tough read from a voice that needs to be listened to.

Much of her story, however, is relatable to anyone who has ever experienced marginalization, oppression, or poverty. It is a book of evolution, in that as the reader reads they can see Elliott grow as a person. This book is for those who want to have their viewpoints challenged, those who enjoy memoirs and biographies, and those who are seeking a kindred author soul.
An excellent read, riveting and heart-breaking.

Dec 13, 2019

Globe 100 2019. Non fiction. Author takes her place amongst essayist Samantha Irby and Roxanne Gay.

Dec 09, 2019

4 stars/5
This book of essays deserves wide readership. Ms Elliott writes about growing up in a challenging environment and how that has shaped her life. She has interesting perspectives which are thought provoking to say the least and challenges all of us to think about our attitudes.

Oct 07, 2019

Fantastic insight into the intergenerational inheritance of trauma for Indigenous people,

liljables May 21, 2019

Dang, I just love an essay collection, and an essay collection from an up-and-coming Haudenosaunee writer makes my heart siiiing.

Essay collections don’t lend themselves to synopsizing, so I’ll share a few of my favourite chapters instead. On Seeing and Being Seen is a gorgeous piece about Elliott reading the work of another Indigenous woman (Leanne Betasamosake Simpson) for the first time, when she was twenty-five years old. The author tackles the issue of white authors throughout history using harmful stereotypes to depict an indigeneity that was palatable for white audiences, while Indigenous writers were overlooked entirely. In a similar vein, Not Your Noble Savage is a scathing indictment of “literary colonialism” within CanLit. The essay Scratch describes Elliott’s persistent head lice as a child, and how her family accepted their infestation as one of many cruel realities of poverty; even as a teenager, Elliott knew she wouldn’t be able to eradicate the pests until she left her family behind. The final offering in the book, Extraction Mentalities, leaves physical space for the reader to answer questions about abuse, gaslighting, and victimhood.

This collection is intellectual, philosophical, and deeply personal. Elliott has such a distinct and unique voice, and her essays are highly readable; they are somehow simultaneously meditative and urgent, and I know they’ll stay with me for a long time. I can’t wait to see what comes next from Alicia Elliott.

May 04, 2019

I can't say enough about this book and yet I don't know what to say in this review. The writing in this collection of essays is thoughtful, well-researched, brutally honest and lovingly open. Every person seeking an understanding of what Reconciliation means and why it is so necessary should read this book. Every white person wondering 'what is my role in the coloniolism of history?' should read this book. Every woman who has struggled with self-esteem should read this book. Every person who has survived a childhood that included poverty, addiction and/or mental illness should read this book. Every Canadian should read this book. It opened my eyes and cracked my mind open over and over, and I considered myself pretty open before I read it! Not even.

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