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Last Modified: April 27, 2021
Feature image for Monday Poems series featuring the cover image for Response of Weeds by Bertrand Bickersteth
Monday Poems: The Response of Weeds by Bertrand Bickersteth

For National Poetry Month, we’re sharing poems from the shortlisted collections for the Alberta Reads Book Club. Today’s Monday poem is from The Response of Weeds by Bertrand Bickersteth. In this collection, Bertrand Bickersteth offers a much-needed window on often overlooked contributions to Alberta’s character and provides personal perspectives on the question of Black identity on the prairies. Through these rousing and evocative poems, Bickersteth uses language to call up the contours of the land itself, land that is at once mesmerizing as it is dismissively effacing. Such is Black identity here on this paradoxical land, too.



Notice how

invisible black is


you grow it in

storied soil

deep and dark

nurtured by an

anecdotal composition

rooted in

gleysolic hyperbolic

and stemming from

weightless whiteness


Once you go back

you will never go black




anabolic anaphora

proleptic proliferations

significant insignality

inverted visibility

notice unnoticed




noticing how visible

black is


you grow it in storied soil


My prairied soil


My soil has known inverse

ancient and dark


My soil grows deep and dark

like the inverse


From The Response of Weeds by Bertrand Bickersteth (NeWest Press 2020)

Born in Sierra Leone, Bertrand Bickersteth grew up in Edmonton, Calgary, and Olds, Alberta. After an English degree at UBC, Bertrand continued studying in the U.K. and later taught in the U.S. A return to Alberta provided him with new insights on black identity and most of his writing has been committed to these perspectives ever since.

At the end of National Poetry Month, we are giving away a prize pack containing the poetry collections from our Monday Poems series including The Response of Weeds by Bertrand Bickersteth. Sign up for our newsletter to win! If you’re already signed up, you’re already entered! This giveaway is open to Canadian residents.

Response of Weeds, The: A Misplacement of Black Poetry on the Prairies

Bertrand Bickersteth (CA)

Published: Apr 01, 2020 by NeWest Press
ISBN: 9781988732794