Praise for Dear Current Occupant
“I want to thank Chelene Knight for not forcing her memoir into a point “a” to “b” narrative. Too often complex and stigmatized stories are dumbed-down, but Knight elevates! She uplifts both her her experiences and the poetic prose and hybrid forms used to share these experiences. Dear Current Occupant will surely become a nuanced creative touchstone that shows us how our stories of survival can and should be told.” —Amber Dawn, author of Sub Rosa and How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir
“Knight is a poet at heart, somewhat disinclined to follow the dusty rules of prose writing, and we are all richer for it. This memoir is built from shards of pure resilience, expertly pieced together into a compelling—and at times devastating—chronicle of youth, family, and sense of place. From Clark Drive to Commercial and Broadway, Dear Current Occupant is a love song to East Vancouver—it is a map of scars, and as everyone knows, scars make for good storytelling.” —Carleigh Baker, author of Bad Endings, finalist for the 2018 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
“Dear Current Occupant is an astonishing book: haunting, intimate, and deeply rendered. A lyrical memoir set against the backdrop of Vancouver’s gritty East Side, it triumphantly melds together prose, poetry, letters, and imagery, to illuminate the pain of un-belonging, the search for a home, and the power of words to heal and transform us. It is a book that boldly takes risks, unafraid and brimming with raw energy, tenderness, and heartbreaking beauty. Chelene Knight emerges as a fierce new voice in Canadian literature, deserving of our full attention.” —Ayelet Tsabari, author of The Best Place on Earth
Reviews & Media
- Toronto Star Review, Dear Current Occupant
- CBC Books Six Black Writers to Watch
- CBC Early Edition with Steven Quinn
- 49th Shelf Notable Memoirs
- Review of Braided Skin on Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism & Review
- Toronto Star
- CBC How I Wrote It
- Georgia Straight
- Open Book Interview
- All Lit Up: Bring Me Back Home, an essay
- 49th Shelf Memoirists Roundtable
- Truthtelling, technique & trolls: A Conversation with Chelene Knight (Q & A with Nicole Breit )
- SFU Alumni Interview
- BCBooklook: How Room Magazine helped me as a writer
- Interview about Room Magazine's 40th Anniversary Anthology with League of Canadian Poets
- Can't Lit Podcast with Daniel Zomperelli and Dina Del Bucchia
- All Lit Up: Writers of Colour Pick Poets
- Vancouver Sun: A Review of Braided Skin
- The La Source Magazine: A Poet's Identity Report
- 20 Questions asked by Rob McLennan
- CBC Radio's North by Northwest
- Co-op Radio's Wax Poetic (click the April 8 2015 link)
- Spring 2015 issue of BC Bookworld
"Chelene Knight has embodied the masterful skills, honed at The Writer's Studio, of capturing the essence of a writer with a profound presence of mind applying diligence and fine tuning to detail. Her generous, empathetic mentorship style supported me in approaching my manuscript with more courage and enthusiasm than I could ever have imagined."
--Wandamae Anderson, March 2015
"There is so much to say about Chelene as a writing consultant. For me the most important is she evokes intuitively the essence of your work, clearly pointing you in a meaningful direction, without trying to control it or own it herself. She is gentle and kind about your creation. She’s never didactic, yet a consultation with her leaves you so much wiser about the art of writing. From stanzas to enjambments, from word choice to ending poems, in pacing and wording phrases, she is an excellent teacher. It was happenstance that brought me to her and I will praise the fates forever more because of it. Chelene really gives your manuscript the attention required to bring it to that next step. Oh yes, she’s a fine poet of the first order!"
-- Paul Sasges, March 2015
The city, the body, the past -- and the way all the disparate elements of a life need to be taken apart and recombined in order for us to wear them -- these are the strands that Chelene Knight triumphantly weaves together in Braided Skin. These poems do not let tribulation define the journey, though it's there; but something dances and laughs its way through this book at every turn, insistently proclaiming a liquid beauty and a transformative reflection as it goes. At the close of this collection you'll find it won't really close, which is just as Knight forewarns, telling us, "In this final chapter, we leave solid ground". Enjoy the way you'll rise on these words, into a vast whorl of wisdom. "
"Braided Skin is a bold story of how skin imprisons, how “we are not the pieces of the broken things inside.” Here, the colour of your skin, the curl of your hair, are not private, but public spaces with political maps and battle grounds, where even a breath can leave a mark."
--Daniela Elza, author of the weight of dew and milk tooth bane bone.