What Fox Knew

Poetry     Paperback     e-book

With poems that both calm and awaken, Mary Barnes brings her Ojibwe roots to the fore and elegantly coaxes out the seemingly quiet world we often take for granted in What Fox Knew. In this masterful first collection, Barnes reveals this world anew, with tempered grace.

Awards & Reviews

“Barnes’ poems are, to quote her, “thick as resin” and also gorgeously clear as amber in the light.”

– Juliane Okot Bitek

“Mary Barnes is a fresh new voice in Canadian poetry. Her words flow with grace and certainty, creating images and evoking memories – some ancestral and others as familiar as home.”

– Judith Plaxton, author of Morning Star, nominated for the Shining Willow award

“Reading Mary Barnes’ poetry collection, What Fox Knew, is a fascinating journey. It is epic in scope, delightfully composed, and rich in detail. Barnes vividly layers existential questions and quests within her Ojibwa ancestry, drawn from family history and meditations on the human condition. Ranging from reflective to tragic, from witty to spiritual to sensual, the poems inhabit that volatile place between the public and the private, making What Fox Knew, a must read for anyone contemplating the world we live in, and most of all the matters of the heart envisaged in this thoroughly engaging debut collection.”

– Prairie Fire Magazine


– Manitoba Book Award - Manuela Dias Award for best book design


– League of Canadian Poets - Gerald Lampert Memorial Award

“The kind of book you will want to keep on your bedside table as you will return to it again and again. Mary’s words envelop us and remind us that in the midst of hardship the human spirit can still be strong and connected to the earth. Within her poems there are many hearts, many voices singing us home.”

– Jónína Kirton

This book was made with the generous support of the Manitoba Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Canada Council for the Arts Manitoba Arts Council
  • Published: November 5th, 2019
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