Thursday, April 12, 2018

Aboriginal women poets read at Canadian Authors event

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we heard readings by three poets, hosted by Kevin Spenst. Jonina Kirton's latest poetry collection, An Honest Woman, has just been nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Prize.

We sampled her wise words: "My turtle mind, slow, steady, walks me to the dance floor, where my snake self dances me," alluding to "a trail of marooned memories."

Joanne Arnott shared these deep truths: "Our bodies are what we are good at and unconscious of," and "Watching the earth breathe can become habit forming." She also made us laugh a lot, once with her quip, "I have poetic licence."

Joanne closed her presentation by singing an altered version of Rockabye Baby, with an ending in which the narrator promises to catch the baby and cradle, if they should fall. What a relief. I've always hated the brutal ending of that traditional nursery rhyme.

Wanda Kehewin shared work from In the Dog House, as well as her upcoming collection. "I heard the word forgiveness, and I asked myself, in what language does forgiveness begin?" A new poem, "My Brother," evoked the deep pain of an elder sibling's helpless concern for her brother in an abusive foster home. Moments later, Wanda's zany humour had her audience in stitches.

Though some poems carried sadness that was hard to hear, in other moments, poets and audience laughed together in joyful unity. Overall, a stellar evening.

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