Marvin Francis was a Cree poet, playwright, author and visual artist born in Heart Lake First Nation in northern Alberta. He lived in Winnipeg, the setting for City Treaty, which won the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer in 2002. Nasty, rude, sneaky, cranky, smart, truthful and intelligent,” wrote author Thomas King. “An exuberant collection of songs, interventions, jokes, maps, histories and manifestos labelled a long poem,” wrote poet/musician John Samson. Francis’ unique voice—he broke linguistic conventions and brought spoken word and performance poetry to the page—was silenced abruptly when he died from cancer in 2005. His second volume of poetry, Bush Camp, was published posthumously in 2008, and his ground-breaking influence still ripples out. Poet Katherena Vermette, who won the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, acknowledged his work: “City Treaty was the first book that made me say ‘I am going to do this too.’”

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