Writer and performer Ivan Coyote has spent decades on the road, telling stories around the world. For years, Ivan has kept a file of the most special communications received from readers and audience members—letters, Facebook messages, emails, soggy handwritten notes tucked under the windshield wiper of their truck after a gig. Then came spring, 2020, and, like artists everywhere, Coyote was grounded by the pandemic, all their planned events cancelled. The energy of a live audience, a performer’s lifeblood, was suddenly gone. But with this loss came an opportunity for a different kind of connection. Those letters that had long piled up could finally begin to be answered.
Care Of combines the most powerful of these letters with Ivan’s responses, creating a body of correspondence of startling intimacy, breathtaking beauty, and heartbreaking honesty and openness. Taken together, they become an affirming and joyous reflection on many of the themes central to Coyote’s celebrated work—compassion and empathy, family fragility, non-binary and trans identity, and the unending beauty of simply being alive, a giant love letter to the idea of human connection, and the power of truly listening to each other.
Ivan Coyote is the award-winning author of thirteen books, the creator of four short films, and they have released three albums that combine storytelling with music. Ivan is a seasoned stage performer, and over the last twenty-six years has become an audience favourite at storytelling, writer’s, film, poetry, and folk music festivals from Anchorage to Australia.
Ivan often grapples with the complex and intensely personal issues of gender identity in their work, as well as topics such as family, class, social justice and queer liberation, but always with a generous heart, a quick wit, and the nuanced and finely-honed timing of a gifted storyteller. Ivan’s stories remind us of our own fallible and imperfect humanity while at the same time inspiring us to change the world.
Ivan’s 13th book, Care Of: Letters, Connections, and Cures will be released on June 8th by McClelland and Stewart, edited by Jared Bland.
Photo by Emily Cooper
In Rebent Sinner, one of North America’s pre-eminent storytellers and performers takes on the intimate and the personal as well as the political in beguiling and revealing stories about what it means for them to be trans and non-binary today. At a time in their life when they must carry the burden of heartbreaking history, while combatting those who would deny their very existence, these stories span thirty years of tackling TERFS, legislators, and bathroom police. But there is delight and pleasure and triumph to be found here, too, as Ivan pays homage to personal heroes while gently guiding younger trans folk to seek joy and find their family as well. Rebent Sinner is the work of an accomplished artist whose plain truths about their experience will astound readers with their utter, breathtaking humanity.
The work is a charming and nuanced contribution to the genre; the writing has a springy, playful quality that is highly sensory. The prose throughout is thick with grief and tenderness…a salve for a tired heart.
From pronoun choice and queer visibility to gendered spaces like bathrooms, Coyote showcases the complexity of everyday experience…On all these topics, the expression is careful, deeply considered and suffused with compassion.
There is a courageous vulnerability in Coyote’s writing, in which they offer up their own stories in the hope of fostering connections and overcoming prejudice…The book is hilarious, heart-breaking, uplifting. It is, in other words, profoundly human.
Coyote ought to be recognized as one of Canada’s great humorists, although often the stories are the laughing-through-tears variety. A lot of grit and a lot of heart.