Join us for the launch of Délani Valin’s debut book of poetry, Shapeshifters (Nightwood, $19.95) at Audreys Books (10702 Jasper Ave) on December 7 at 7pm. Délani and her mother, beadwork artist and Métis knowledge keeper Connie Kulhavy, share their stories of family, perseverance and hope through art, poetry and humour. They reflect on what it’s like to be featured in each other’s work and the ways in which art can heal through generations.
Shapeshifters explores the cost of finding the perfect mask. Through a lens of urban Métis experience and neurodivergence, Délani Valin takes on a series of personas as an act of empathy as resistance. Some personas are capitalist mascots like the Starbucks siren, Barbie and the Michelin Man, who confide the hopes and frustrations that lay hidden behind their relentless public enthusiasm. Others include psychiatric diagnoses like hypochondria, autism and depression, and unlikely archetypes such as a woman who becomes a land mass by ending the quest to shrink herself. In more confessional poems, the pressure to find relief from otherness often leads to magical thinking: portals, flight, telepathy and incantations all become metaphors for survival. Shapeshifters maps ways in which an individual can attempt to fit into a world that is inhospitable to them, and makes a case to shift the shape of that world.
Délani Valin is neurodivergent and Métis with Nehiyaw, Saulteaux, French-Canadian and Czech ancestry. She studies for her master’s in professional communications at Royal Roads University, and has a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Vancouver Island University. Her poetry has been awarded The Malahat Review’s Long Poem Prize and subTerrain’s Lush Triumphant Award. Her work has appeared in PRISM International, Adbusters, Room, and in the anthologies Those Who Make Us and Bawaajigan. She is on the editorial board of Room and The Malahat Review, and lives on traditional and unceded Snuneymuxw territory (Nanaimo, BC).