Billy-Ray Belcourt

Billy-Ray Belcourt is a poet, scholar, and author from the Driftpile Cree Nation.

Billy-Ray Belcourt
  • Ph.D. student in English at the University of Alberta
  • M.St. in Women's Studies with Distinction from Oxford University
  • B.A. (Hons.) in Comparative Literature with First Class Honours from the University of Alberta
OccupationAuthor, Poet, Scholar
Notable work
This Wound is a World
  • Rhodes Scholarship, 2016
  • CBC's Top Ten Poetry Collection, 2017
  • P.K. Page Founder's Award for Poetry, 2017
  • Griffin Poetry Prize, 2018

Belcourt's works encompass a variety of topics and themes, including decolonial love, grief, intimacy and queer sexuality, and the role of Indigenous women in social resistance movements. Belcourt is also the author of the poetry collection This Wound is a World which was chosen as one of CBC's top ten poetry collections of 2017 and won the 2018 Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize. Belcourt was the 2016 recipient of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship and is currently working on his Ph.D. at the University of Alberta.[1]


Belcourt grew up in the community of Driftpile in the region currently known as northern Alberta.[2] He was raised by his grandparents and began writing poetry around the age of 19.[2]

As an undergraduate student, Belcourt studied Comparative Literature at the University of Alberta where he graduated with a B.A. (Hons.) with First Class Honours in 2016.[3] While at the University of Alberta, Belcourt was actively involved as "an advocate for LGBTQ and Indigenous communities," which included serving as the Aboriginal Student Council president.[4] Belcourt is a Youth Facilitator with the Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN).[5]

In 2015, Belcourt was selected as a recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship to study at Wadham College, Oxford University for the 2016-2017 school year.[6] Belcourt was the first First Nations scholar to be selected for this prestigious award and with the scholarship's announcement, he received media attention noting him as a leader, role model, and change-maker.[6]

In 2017 Belcourt graduated with distinction from Oxford University with a master's degree in Women's Studies, his master's thesis focused on "the role of Indigenous women in social resistance movements" and is titled "Decolonial Sight: Indigenous Feminist Protest and the World-to-Come."[4]

While an active writer and poet throughout his university career, Belcourt published his first book, This Wound is a World in 2017.[7]

As of 2018, Belcourt is working towards a Ph.D. in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta.[4] His research focuses on what he calls the 'Indigenous paranormal' in art, poetry and film that has been produced by Indigenous peoples in the region currently called Canada.[4] In addition to these studies and research, Belcourt is also working on a forthcoming essay collection under the working title of The Conspiracy of NDN Joy.[8]




  • "Meditations on reserve life, biosociality, and the taste of non-sovereignty." The main argument of this paper is that the feeling of indigeneity is the miserable feeling of not properly being of this world and that a disease like diabetes mellitus is a key manifestation of this sort of exhausted existence. To do this, Belcourt pursues the secondary claims that indigeneity is a zone of biological struggle and that the reserve is something of a non-place calibrated by affects the groups under the sign of misery. This is a story about the politics of interpretation, about how one takes stock of the horrors of Indigenous embodiment and how we might do it differently.[11]

Public ScholarshipEdit

  • "The Optics of the Language: How Joi T. Arcand Looks With Words"[12]
  • with Lou Cornum, Thel Seraphim, and Kay Gabriel, "Top or Bottom: How do we desire?"[13]
  • "To be Unbodied," Canadian Art (2017): n.p.[14]
  • "The body remembers when the world broke open,"[15]
  • with Maura Roberts, "Making friends for the end of the world,"[16]
  • "Can the Other of Native Studies Speak?"[17]
  • "Political Depression in a Time of Reconciliation"[18]
  • "The day of the TRC Final Report: On being in this world without wanting it,"[19]

Creative WritingEdit

  • "Ode to Northern Alberta," in THIS Magazine (2017).[20]
  • "Gay Incantations" Voicemail Poems (2017).[21]
  • "Love is a Moontime Teaching" The Malahat Review (2016).


  • Indspire Award Youth - First Nation (2019)[22]
  • Winner of Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize (2018)[23]
  • Winner of the Indigenous Voices Award, English Poetry for This Wound Is a World (2018) [23]
  • Winner of the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize, This Wound is a World[24]
  • CBC's best book of 2017, Canadian poetry category, This Wound is a World [25]
  • Winner, P.K. Page Founder's Award for Poetry, "Love is a Moontime Teaching", (2017)[26]
  • Rhodes Scholar (2016)
  • Bingo in Edmonton (2019)


Belcourt's works have generally been welcomed with praise and appreciation.[27] CBC featured This Wound is a World at the top of their top ten poetry collections from 2017 stating that the book "is memoiristic in approach, perspicuous in style and exacting in its determination to upend genre and form."[28]

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson also praised Belcourt's book, choosing it as her favorite book of 2017. In Simpson's words, "Belcourt is a sovereign genius and This Wound is a World redefines poetics as a refusal of colonial erasure, a radical celebration of Indigenous life and our beautiful, intimate rebellion."[29] Lisa Tatonetti also praises the book, calling it a "powerful meditation on the intersections of violence, love, and the body."[30]


  1. ^ "A First Nations scholar's journey from a northern Alberta reserve to Oxford — and back again". CBC News. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  2. ^ a b "1st-ever First Nations student among 3 Rhodes scholars named at U of A". CBC News. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  3. ^ "Lists of Graduates - Office of the Registrar". Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  4. ^ a b c d "Rhodes Scholarship just the beginning for rising Indigenous star". Rhodes Scholarship just the beginning for rising Indigenous star. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  5. ^ "Native Youth Sexual Health Network - Who We Are". Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  6. ^ a b "'Overcome with emotion': First Nations student named Rhodes scholar". CTVNews. 2015-11-27. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  7. ^ "Billy-Ray Belcourt on writing an 'instruction manual for a queer Indigenous future' | CBC Books". CBC. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  8. ^ "New Constellations Artist: Billy-Ray Belcourt". NOW Magazine. 2017-11-24. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  9. ^ "2018 BOOK AWARDS: SHORTLIST ANNOUNCEMENTS – League of Canadian Poets". Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  10. ^ "2018 IVA Finalists". Indigenous Voices Awards. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  11. ^ Belcourt, Billy-Ray (2017). "Meditations on reserve life, biosociality, and the taste of non-sovereignty". Settler Colonial Studies. 8: 1–15. doi:10.1080/2201473X.2017.1279830.
  12. ^ "The Optics of the Language: How Joi T. Arcand Looks with Words". Canadian Art. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  13. ^ "Top or Bottom: How do we desire?". The New Inquiry. 2017-08-18. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  14. ^ " - Connecting People Through News". Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  15. ^ "The body remembers when the world broke open · Arts Everywhere". Arts Everywhere. 2017-02-08. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  16. ^ GUTS (2016-05-23). "Making Friends for the End of the World". GUTS. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  17. ^ "Can the Other of Native Studies Speak?". Decolonization. 2016-02-01. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  18. ^ "Political Depression in a Time of Reconciliation". 2016-01-15. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  19. ^ "The day of the TRC Final Report: On being in this world without wanting it |". Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  20. ^ "THIS → Ode to Northern Alberta". Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  21. ^ Poems, Voicemail. ""GAY INCANTATIONS" by Billy-Ray Belcourt". voicemail poems. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  22. ^ "Billy-Ray Belcourt". Indspire. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  23. ^ a b "BOOKS". BILLY-RAY BELCOURT. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  24. ^ "Billy-Ray Belcourt wins $65,000 Griffin Poetry Prize". Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  25. ^ "The best books of 2017 | CBC Books". CBC. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  26. ^ "The Malahat Review". Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  27. ^ "Decolonial love: These Indigenous artists are taking back the self-love that colonialism stole | CBC Arts". CBC. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  28. ^ "The best Canadian poetry of 2017 | CBC Books". CBC. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  29. ^ "Why Leanne Betasamosake Simpson loved Billy-Ray Belcourt's This Wound is a World | CBC Books". CBC. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  30. ^

External linksEdit