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Posted: Wednesday May 15, 2013
Jordan Abel

Jordan Abel is a Nisga’a writer currently completing his PhD at Simon Fraser University, where his studies focus on digital humanities and indigenous poetics. Abel’s
conceptual writing engages with the representation of indigenous peoples in anthropology and popular culture.

His chapbooks have been published by JackPine Press and Above/Ground Press, and his work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals across Canada, including Prairie Fire, the Capilano Review, dANDelion, ARC Poetry, Descant, Broken Pencil, filling Station, Grain, OCW Magazine, Canadian Literature, CV2, and Canadian Literature. He is an editor for Poetry Is Dead magazine and former editor for PRISM International and Geist. Abel’s first book, The Place of Scraps (Talonbooks), was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and the winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Un/inhabited, Abel’s second book, was co-published by Project Space Press and Talonbooks in 2015.

Abel was named one of 12 Young Writers to Watch by CBC Books (July 2015).

He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.


April 2018 : Four Talon titles nominated for ReLit Awards!

August 2017 : Talon poets in Contemporary Verse 2: Convergence

June 2017 : Abel proves able: Jordan Abel wins the Griffin!

April 2017 : Jordan Abel’s Injun short-listed for the Griffin!

September 2016 : This Sunday: WORD Vancouver!

July 2016 : Tonight in New York City, the Poets House Poetry Publication Showcase opens New York City

July 2016 : Starting today! Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival 2016​

May 2016 : Listen: Full audio recording of our recent Vancouver launch

April 2016 : Photos from our big launch last night

April 2016 : Two quadruple book launches this week!

March 2016 : Save the date! April 26 – the Talon Spring 2016 Poetry Launch in Vancouver

March 2016 : Save the date! April 28 – the Talon Spring 2016 Poetry Launch in Calgary

February 2016 : Jordan Abel’s new book is here!

January 2016 : A look at what’s coming this spring

January 2016 : Best of 2015

December 2015 : CBC’s Best Books of 2015

April 2015 : We Have Liftoff! (Photos from Talon’s Spring 2015 Poetry Launch in Vancouver)

April 2015 : Horses Records’s Talonbooks

April 2015 : Talon’s Spring Poetry to Launch in Vancouver and Toronto

February 2015 : Q&Q Shouts Out to Meredith Quartermain and Jordan Abel

January 2015 : CBC’s “15 poetry collections to watch for in 2015”

January 2015 : Announcement: New Books for Spring 2015!

January 2015 : Three Talon Poets in “Canada and Beyond” Periodical

November 2014 : Tomorrow in Vancouver! Help Raise Legal Defence Funds for Protestors on Burnaby Mountain

October 2014 : Sneak a Peek: Un/Inhabited by Jordan Abel at the Vancouver Art Book Fair

June 2014 : Books for National Aboriginal Month

May 2014 : The Place of Scraps Wins Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize

April 2014 : rob mclennan Interviews Jordan Abel

April 2014 : The Place of Scraps Shortlisted for 2014 Gerald Lampert Award!

April 2014 : It’s Poetry Month!

March 2014 : BC Book Prizes 2014 Shortlists Announced!

March 2014 : Essay: Arc Poetry Magazine on The Place of Scraps

November 2013 : Video: Jordan Abel Launches The Place of Scraps

October 2013 : Launched! Jordan Abel’s The Place of Scraps

October 2013 : Talon Authors Unite at WORD Vancouver

September 2013 : Tens of Thousands Participate in Vancouver Reconciliation Walk

September 2013 : The Place of Scraps is Finally Here!

July 2013 : Book Trailer: The Place of Scraps by Jordan Abel

July 2013 : Meta-Talon: A Profile of Jordan Abel


One of 12 Writers to Watch (CBC Books, 2015)



2017 Griffin Poetry Prize (Winner)

2017 ReLit Award for Poetry (Finalist)



One of 15 best CanLit covers of 2015 (CBC Books)

One of the best 75 books of 2015 (CBC Books)


The Place of Scraps

Winner of the 2014 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (B.C. Book Prizes)

Shortlisted for the 2014 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award



“Abel is not merely playing with assumptions [about] poetry and reading but also of language, capitalism, linearity, and appropriation. Construction gives way to deconstruction. Things fall apart, the colonial center cannot hold. The English language devolves, deliciously, into its own demise.”
Kenyon Review

“A monumental poetic work … a slender, yet compelling and impactful volume that graphically undertakes to expose the hateful mythology imposed on Native American peoples beginning with North America’s European colonial history. … Abel’s graphics in Injun are masterfully crafted … Abel has dramatically explicated [the problematic history of the American West] with Injun, which is the book’s greatest contribution.”

“In Injun, Abel carefully un-writes ninety-one Western novels in the public domain … While Injun is conceptually difficult and, indeed, demanding in the most productive of ways, the remarkably condensed, although potent, lines that Abel un-creates from within the body of such a disturbing collection of texts are demonstrative of his unique ability to converge conceptual, political, and affective registers seamlessly. … Injun recasts the book as a textual object … It is no wonder that Abel has received so much critical attention, as he is one of the most innovative and thrilling poets writing today.”
Canadian Literature

“The poet breaks words, even as lands and languages have been broken by colonial power. Fragmented and fugitive pieces lie at the heart of Injun. … Injun nevertheless has the same astonishing impact as his earlier work in re-establishing the presence of Indigenous culture against silence and absence. Techniques of collage and pastiche restore the margins, invert dichotomies of paleface and redskin, and rearrange legends, myths, and rituals. … Injun’s brackets alert us not only to what is enclosed, but also to what has escaped.”
Malahat Review

“Jordan Abel’s book of poetry, Injun, destabilizes Western texts and forces us to engage in a new conversation with the literature that has been a cornerstone for writers, readers, and critics for hundreds of years. … Injun is an artful exploration of the brutal colonialism that informs which voices are priviledged. … Injun isn’t just good; it is singular and essential.”



“This is a compelling and difficult text, one whose political resonance is made all the more evident by the ambiguities that pervade it. … Abel mounts a (sometimes wry) challenge to the representation of Indigenous peoples in Westerns, but his poetic practice is also in line with other recent works of experimental poetry … the text which is the source of violence is also the wellspring of resistance, anger, reclamation, and hope. … what is most interesting about Un/inhabited is the ambiguity that complicates the more obvious metaphors linking text with land and reading with resource extraction.”
Canadian Literature

“He pokes holes into these frontier stories – revealing the sublimated horror in their comic gothic conventions. This isn’t conceptual writing so much as foundational writing. Defoundational. Unsettling. He graphically strip-mines texts – interrupts their ideology, and asks you to fill in – suture – the blanks. Rush into this necessary, (de)literary landscape.”
—Gregory Betts

“At once graphic art, anti-poetry, a trace history of reading, and sociological groundwork, Un/inhabited is something entirely new that defies easy categorization or description. This is art working its hardest edge to build an understanding of how our present and past continue to shape and reshape each other.”
—Shane Rhodes


The Place of Scraps

The Place of Scraps explores the entwined role memory-making plays in shaping one’s engagement with place, identity, and remembrance. Abel’s inclusion of found, composed, and photographed materials ingeniously calls on readers to consider the process of constructing, honouring, and remembering place and identity through artistic practice. … Collectively, these poems present acts of erasure that question the very limits of erasure, textual accounts that question the very limits of text, and photographs that playfully exceed their documentary frames.”
Canadian Literature

“Like its source, Scraps deploys linguistic and visual systems of representation to record First Nations history but unlike its source, it reveals anthropology as a colonial weapon in its creative distillation of Barbeau’s ethnography.”

“With his breakout collection of visual poetry, … Abel conjures the near impossible: a heartbreaking history lesson, both personal and public, mixed with lyricism, intelligence, humour, and cold-eyed facts. This narrative of the misguided, good-hearted Marius Barbeau and what he did with First Nations cultural icons will be a revelation for many. What Abel takes from language is what gives it form and strength: a more apt use of plunder verse I cannot imagine.”
– Carolyn Smart

“English litters the sky, its typed letters eventually demolished into illegible insects that flit above archival photo-testimony to land/people. […] A surprising and necessary book of poetry, The Place of Scraps is as humbly unstoppable as the next breath you take in and release back out to the world.”
– Rita Wong

“Abel employs the technique of erasure, and in some cases gets a poem down to punctuation, forming a cloud of tiny marks, reminiscent of fireflies or mosquitoes. The use of blank space on most pages is remarkable, opening up the possibility of a wide array of thought and feeling regarding what has happened to First Nations culture. And on pages filled with images and letters, the same opportunity is paradoxically presented. […] The concept of carving connects objects – the wood of the [totem] poles and the spoon – and words or images carved out of Barbeau’s work by Abel’s imagination. And one carves out a life of surrounding matter. Or possibly one is carved out of life.”
Coastal Spectator

“This is art of the concept, used to unmake language so that language may live.”
– Wayde Compton

“… Abel’s textual erasures and collisions manage, all at once, to viscerally enact losses, give voice to silenced histories, make plain the bonds between curation and colonization, reveal cascading ironies, amplify the commentary of mosquitos. Abel is a master carver of the page.”
– Susan Holbrook

“… astonishingly inventive […] Abel’s writing constantly dazzles and rewards with its linguistic playfulness and conceptual sophistication.”
– Adam Dickinson

_“With sustained attention, serious criticism, and generous respect, Jordan Abel has latched onto the extraordinary luck of lack.”
– Craig Dworkin

“… Abel has broken up Barbeau’s text to be examined like any other artifact for its clues of the workings, interactions and exchanges, and contradictions between settler society and Aboriginal society. Yet the ‘burden of interpretation’ that Abel places on his reader is worth the effort, for there are many moments of insight and beauty …”
– Eric Ostrowidzki

“an anthropology of anthropology[,] done as only a[n Aboriginal/Indigenous] poet could do.”
– Ray Hsu

“…[Abel] reinvents poetry as a plastic art. He is not concerned with finding his own words. … He simultaneously scraps Barbeau’s discourse and conserves it, seizing control of its rules and turning them to new purposes. Ingeniously, his imagetexts pass the work of sculpture on to a reader who reads, and rereads, in three dimensions.”
– Christopher Bracken

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