The narrator of Kiviuq’s tale, like the protagonist himself, is a trickster. His sardonic voice is demarked from the main narrative by parentheses: “[don’t ask / what Kiviuq deserves or if he’s sorry – we’re not in that kind of world / are we?]” Thus the reader is jolted out of the world of the story from time to time, just as Kiviuq himself seems unable to settle down in any singular narrative. These are the conventions of Inuit song, even if the specifics are the poet’s invention: repetition; multiple points of view; dizzying shifts in time. Literary techniques like these speak to a culture more engaged in the potential of multiplicity than singular truths; they evoke the haphazard patterns of memory, rather than the dogma of linear time. The timeline of these poems shifts forwards and backwards like a rogue escalator, tumbling and staggering those characters who ride it, not to mention the reader. In the midst of his adventures Kiviuq tantalisingly “remembers meeting another woman / a long time before all this began.” Yet, at the very beginning of the sequence, Price asks: “Is his story coming to an end?”
Locations are unpredictable too. Sedna and Kiviuq are outsiders, who pause their travels to become members of a community for only a short while. Indeed there are so many outsiders in these texts that the idea of a centre existing at all is exploded. Kiviuq lives for a while in what the narrator describes with an ironic shrug of apostrophes as “marginal territories”, the margins of the margins he has already travelled through, but inevitably ever his own centre (“places travel and you stay still”). He is a serial neighbour. Hospitality is vital in this region, but often comes vexed with complications, as Kiviuq finds when Wolverine helps him to build a snow house. The host may pose a threat, but so too can a guest. While Sedna’s and Kiviuq’s experiences are defined by their travels through place, The Old Woman who changed herself into a Man explores the journeys made by those who remain behind. The women’s
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