All posts by Todd Besant

About Todd Besant

Todd Besant is an author, editor, publisher, reader, introvert, secret blogger, stargazer, freethinker, powerlifter, kitchen dancer, podcast enthusiast, and car singer. He is overly fond of fine pencils, cool notebooks, pocket knives, waxed canvas shoulder bags, Moscot eyeglasses, coffee, bourbon, flat caps, clothing for shorter men, and men’s grooming products–especially pomades and beard oils and balms. Todd is taller online, comprehensively skeptical, and as analogue as possible under the circumstances. He is a settler on Turtle Island. Todd lives on Treaty 1 Land that is the territories of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples and the Traditional Homeland of the Métis Nation, in Winnipeg, MB, a city carpet tacked to the still damp clay bed of a proglacial lake created during the Holocene Glacial Retreat.

Searching for Signal is a beautifully restrained and delicate elegy from a daughter whose grief is as probing and responsive as “antennas in need of / hum.” Cayer throws out a taut breath line, a glittering language net. These poems are the luminous record of grief’s many slippages and catchings.

Meira Cook

Author Note & Acknowledgements

Author Note

Researching and writing this book was inevitably foregrounded by the ongoing discussions and questions of being a white settler writer whose forebears lived alongside, though never quite together with, Indigenous Peoples in the near north of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

My earliest known forebear, a blacksmith called Antoine Caillé dit Brûlefer & Biscornet, emigrated from France in the late 1600s to what was labelled “New France.” Although he is not listed as one of the known French Carignan soldiers sent to colonize the area, he nevertheless settled in the traditional territory of the Kanien’kehà:ka. He married Anne Aubry, a Filles du roi (King’s Daughter), one of over 700 young French women delivered by King Louis XIV of France to marry the single Frenchmen that preceded them.

My Ukrainian ancestors were enticed to Canada in a settlement drive in the late 1800s, both sides settling on the lands and waters covered by Treaties 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6, the traditional territories of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.

I am grateful for the opportunity to write Searching for Signal—and my previous books—on Turtle Island, on the land and waters covered by Treaty 1. I hope it does justice to the story of my father’s upbringing, without further entrenching and/or contributing to colonialist and settler attitudes and actions that brought much tragedy to, and continue to harm, Indigenous Peoples’ families, Indigenous individuals and communities, and First Nations.

Acknowledgements

Some of the lines from these poems were published in a different format in Prairie Fire Magazine. Warm thanks to the Signature Editions: Karen Haughian, Ashley Brekelmans, Heidi Harms and my editor Clarise Foster for her deft and articulate perspective. I am grateful to Maurice Meirau for his input on an early version of this manuscript and to Claire Ogden, Melanie Slavitch, Marlene Rumenovic, and Dorene Willerton. A debt of thanks to Warren Cariou for a meaningful discussion of the role of a settler poet living on colonized territory

This book would not have been possible without the enduring presence of my family. Lastly, I thank Todd Besant, my collaborator in life for his creative wisdom and support.

Searching for Signal is in memory of my father Verne Wesley Kachkowski 1937-2008, Vern with an “e”, who would have been ridiculously proud of this book.