Featured poet Lynn Tait will end our 4th season
Lynn Tait of Sarnia, one of the most entertaining readers of all our regional poets, will feature at London Open Mic's last event of Season Four, on June 1st, 2016.
Tait has been writing poetry for over 40 years. She was first published in a literary magazine when she was 15, but has not publicly referred to herself as a poet until this last decade. Although most of her poetry is free verse, she does like to work with other forms, especially erasure and glosa.
Tait is a member of The League of Canadian Poets and The Ontario Poetry Society (TOPS). Her poetry has been published in numerous literary journals in Canada and the U.S., including the Windsor Review, Quills, Contemporary Verse 2, and in over 70 anthologies including Under the Mulberry Tree, published by Quattro Books and edited by James Deahl. She published a chapbook “Breaking Away” in 2002, a book: Encompass I in 2013 (with four other poets), and has currently completed two full-length poetry manuscripts.
Tait has served as an editor/compiler for a number of anthologies for The Ontario Poetry Society.
She is also an award-winning photographer. Her photos have graced the covers of a number of poetry anthologies.
WHERE: The Mykonos Restaurant at 572 Adelaide St. North, London, Ontario. The restaurant has a large, enclosed terrace just behind the main restaurant, which comfortably holds 60 poetry lovers. Mediterranean food and drinks are available. The terrace is open to the parking lot behind. Overflow parking is available across the side street and in the large lot one block north, in front of Trad’s Furniture.
WHEN: Wednesday, June 1st, 2016. Doors: 5:30 to 6:30 (it's a restaurant.) Event begins at 7:00
THE FEATURE: Lynn Tait will read for 20 minutes, followed by a Question and Answer session.
OPEN MIC: Following the feature, 15 open mic poets will read, for a maximum of five minutes each (which is about two good pages of poetry, but it should be timed at home). Sign up on the reader's list on the book table at the back. It's first come, first served.
COVER: Pay What You Can (in jar on back table, or use Donate Button on website Donate Page). Your contributions are our only source of income to cover expenses.
RAFFLE PRIZES: Anyone who pays what cover they can at the event receives a ticket for the raffle prize, three of which will be picked after the intermission. The prizes consist of poetry books donated by The Ontario Poetry Society.
Our indigenous reading event brought many people together over poetry!
See the slide show.
Charmaine E. Elijah, the organizer of the May 4th, 2016, special indigenous reading event put on by London Open Mic Poetry, calmed herself for her opening statement by lighting a braid of sweetgrass and fanning the smoke over herself. To the Ahnishenahbe peoples of the Great Lakes region, and to many other tribes, sweet grass is a sacred plant often used, as Charmaine did, at the beginning of prayers or ceremonies to attract positive energies.
Charmaine opened the event by reading in English the fifteen stanzas of the Ohenten Kariwatekwen or Thanks Giving Address, each of which ended with, "Now our minds are one."
The first two stanzas were as follows:
"THE PEOPLE: We who have gathered together are responsible that our cycle continues. We have been given the duty to live in harmony with one another and other living things. We give greetings that our people still share the knowledge of our culture and ceremonies and are able to pass it on. We have our elders here and also the new faces yet to be born, which is the cycle of our familie-for this we give thanks and greetings. Now our minds are one.
"THE EARTH: We give greetings and thanks to our Mother the Earth-she gives us that which makes us strong and healthy. We are grateful that she continues to perform her duties as she was instructed. The women and Mother Earth are one-givers of life. We are her color, her flesh and her roots. Now our minds are one."
Read The whole of the address.
Charmaine, who is a poet and scholar from the Oneida of the Thames, then read poems of hers in the Ahnishenahbe language, each line followed by an English translation, including this image of her gentle grandfather:
Satkatho ka’ik^ kayatale , lolihwa’ne’tsk^ kwe.
Look at this picture, he was a gentle person.
Shiyatk^la’:tu’ laksohtak^ Harley luwaytskwe.
I set him free, my grandfather, Harley was my grandpa’s name.
Okwali ne;ho’ talot^ nen laksothk^.
Bear was the clan of my grandfather.
Kanuhtunya’kwas wahatshanu:ni kaika kayatale.
I think he got happy in this picture.
Katsa okunu Montreal ye:les’kwea;e tkyo’t^hsla’wanu.
Somewhere in Montreal, he was there at this job site big.
Kayatale, lakhalo’lihe’ “wahsatkahlo’klike’ okahle tsi’niyotshanunya’:t”
In this picture, he is telling me “you wink and it is really happiness, that makes one happy”.
She then introduced David D. Plain, an indigenous historian/poet from Sarnia, who was followed by the indigenous London poet Gloria Alvernaz Mulcahy. The three read in rounds throughout the first half of the evening.
Plain, a member of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation (Ojibwa) and a grandson of Chief On The Plain, has published four highly-respected volumes of history of the Ahnishenahbek peoples. He began by enumerating a simple series of events, each of which reduced the land use by the indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes region, beginning in the early 1700s when they had lived freely everywhere and ending in the 1900s when they were pressed into several small reservations.
He also read several of his poems, including this sonnet:
(This is the complete meaning of the Ojibwa word Aamjiwnaang in a sonnet. Aamjiwnaang is a descriptive noun for the outlet of Lake Huron where it perpetually empties itself into the St. Clair River and its environs. The imagery in the poem represents Aamjiwnaang at the time of Confederation in 1867.)
Tumbling waters tumbling by
Past boulders, and rock bed two visions vie
Thunderous falls versus mist clouds on high
Jointly both beckon to gathering nigh
Into narrow strait swift current weaves braid
Then flowing upstream beneath placid shade
In midst river yet deep deluge’s not staid
Bright dancing sunbeams reveal spirits rayed
Now downstream widens its turbulence past
Deep water belies an irenic cast
Yet peaceful shallows raise tall reeds at last
Abode of both fish and waterfowl vast
Shore boasts of maple, oak, elm all grasses
Shading wild fruit trees abundantly massed.
Gloria Alvernaz Mulcahy, of Tsalagi Aniyunwiya ancestry, born in the Monterrey Bay area on the Pacific coast, is a highly-accomplished poet and member of the League of Canadian Poets. She read a long, beautiful poem about the river, also a duet with Kevin Heslop as the raven. Among her poems was this shorter one:
a closer look
at the garden where
where the flowers
and the skin
of trees tell
of sun and wind
and the leaves
sing up their
i find some
who tell amusing
eavesdrops on earthlings
that sun rises
out of the sea
and moon in love
with the sea
pulls the tides
and how grief
in a black cloud
A young indigenous woman from the audience named Awasis, whose poetry is heavily influenced by hip hop, read poems of her personal search, going back to her ancestors, then forward into the future. And she read one about what she termed "environmental racism", when the Blue Water colony of white settlers was moved by the government because of an environmental threat, but the local indigenous people were ignored.
Sample poems and our interviews with the three featured poets can be read here.
Following a question and answer period with the large audience of 59, the evening moved into its open mic section, shortened this time because of the lengthened feature event. Nevertheless, ten poets read, including Kevin Andrew Heslop who recited with eyes closed a poem by Robert Frost, which he dedicated to organizer Charmaine E. Elijah, Frost being her favourite poet. London Open Mic Poetry organizer Stan Burfield read his piece of poetic prose describing his childhood memory of attending a rodeo and powwow on the Hobbema Indian Reserve in Alberta not far from his family's farm, a memory which formed the initial impulse to add a indigenous poetry feature to this year's London Open Mic. His description can be read here.
Organizer Stan Burfield recalls the evolution of London's upcoming indigenous poetry and history event. Stan discusses how it came about and why, and reads his poem Moccasin Bells, which contains the memory which started the whole thing. The London Open Mic Poetry event was on May 4th, 2016, at Mykonos Restaurant, London, ON. It featured Charmaine E. Elijah, historian David D. Plain, and poet Gloria Alvernaz Mulcahy.
from Shelly Harder's Blog:
wish upon fleabane and columbine
upon toad lily and beard tongue
fairy wings, foamflower, goat’s rue
wish upon fringed yellow loosestrife
when feet find in darkness a groundhog hole
wish to the jabbing white of your bone
for prayer is to fall in love with
and hope to dance upon the knuckle of
and grace a lambent bellow bumbling
why did the chicken cross the Moibus strip?
to get to the same side
----------------------------------------------------------- Here's a link to our exchange with Laurie Graham in anticipation of the launch of "Settler Education"