The Weight of Survival

By Tina Biello

Categories: Poetry
Imprint: Dagger Editions
Paperback : 9781773861395, February 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-02-02

In The Weight of Survival, Tina Biello retraces her family’s journey from post-war Italy to a small logging town near Cowichan Lake, exploring themes of identity, queerness and belonging.


Nestled in a small logging town near Lake Cowichan is an old elementary school. The child of immigrants from post-war Italy attends this school among the population of mostly white, anglo-saxon families. She does not speak English.

Her family is one of four who emigrated from southern Italy, to this small forested community. There are other families, from India, who share a kinship of ‘other’ with the Italian families. What happens when your voice, your food, your home is different? How do you know how to be queer when there is no language or place for it? How do you remember a time not spoken of, but passed on through the smell of walnut blossoms in the spring, grapes in the fall? In The Weight of Survival, Tina Biello chronicles this upbringing of otherness, of being shaped by two very different communities, of blending identities into one, and what is left behind in the process.