Listening to “Mes lames de tannage”: Notes toward a Translation


This paper analyses Natasha Kanapé Fontaine’s slam poem “Mes lames de tannage” from the perspective of a reader who has also translated the slam into English. The process of translating a writer whose mother tongue is Innu but who was raised in French outside her community of Pessamit, a writer who is also in the process of reclaiming her Innu tongue, brings to the fore all the pitfalls of moving from one colonial language to another. Yet there is a need for French-English translations of writers like Kanapé Fontaine, and specifically, of her “territorial slams.” Speaking out against settler-colonial practices of knowledge/ignorance, history/appropriation, and resource development/environmental degradation, “Mes lames de tannage” explores forms of intergenerational inheritance that inhabit the present and carry Innu cultural memory into the future.

This article “Listening to “Mes lames de tannage”: Notes toward a Translation” originally appeared in Indigenous Literature and the Arts of Comunity. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 230-231 (Autumn/Winter 2016): 86-105.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.