Few figures in Canadian history have attained such an iconic status as Louis Riel. Celebrated Metis poet Gregory Scofield takes a fresh look at Riel in his new collection, Louis: The Heretic Poems, challenging traditional conceptions of Riel as simply a folk hero and martyr. By juxtaposing historical events and quotes with the poetic narrative, Scofield draws attention to the side of the Metis leader that most Canadians have never contemplated: that of husband, father, friend and lover, poet and visionary.
Scofield also uses the collection to raise attention about the more crucial historical events of Riel’s lifetime–such as the Manitoba Resistance and the Northwest Resistance at Batoche–in order to illuminate the history of western Canadian Metis people and their struggles toward recognition. Scofield also examines Riel’s own poetry, most of which was devoted to exploring religious themes. Accordingly, religious imagery features strongly in the collection, complemented by a poetic voice that is rhythmic, repetitious, and lush with potent symbolism and simple, powerful images.
Author: Gregory Scofield