North End Love Songs

North End Love Songs

Written by Katherena Vermette

Published in 2012 by J. Gordon Shillingford (Links to an external site.)


Katherena Vermette introduces the poems in her collection North End Love Songs (winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2013) with a quote from Jeanette Winterson:


“A tough life needs a tough language and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers—a language powerful enough to say how it is.”


Winterson’s words perfectly set the stage for the poems that follow. Vermette uses powerful language—direct, honest, and vulnerable—to celebrate the struggles and the joys, the heartbreaks and the hopefulness of growing up in Winnipeg’s North End.


The grouping of poems in the section titled November narrate the tragic story of the death of Vermette’s brother Donovan, who disappeared in November and whose body was discovered six months later. These poems highlight not only the devastating loss experienced by the family, but the inadequate response by the police:


indians go missing

they tell the family

indians go missing


blue suits shrug

no sense looking

they said

he’ll turn up when

he gets bored

or broke.


North End Love Songs is a stunning collection of poetry to add to your classroom library.


Introducing the Author:

Visit Katherena Vermette’s website (Links to an external site.).

Read interviews with Katherena Vermette here (Links to an external site.) and here (Links to an external site.).

Learning More About the Book:

Read these reviews of North End Love Songs:

Prairie Fire (Links to an external site.)

CBC Books (Links to an external site.)

Watch the short documentary (Links to an external site.) This River.

In this interview (Links to an external site.), Katherena Vermette describes the impact she hopes North End Love Songs will have on readers.

In this clip from Definitely Not the Opera (Links to an external site.), Katherena Vermette tells the story of her brother’s death.


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