Category Archives: Poetry

Lineage- Strong Women

I went to the Garden City Collegiate choir concert on Monday night. It was a terrific concert with many great performances. My favorite piece was Lineage by composer Andrea Ramsey. It was sung by the women’s choir. The lyrics were taken from a poem written by Margaret Walker

 
grandma and grandpa peters

My grandmother Margaretha Peters in a grain field on the farm where she worked for much of her life

My grandmothers were strong.

They followed plows and bent to toil.
They moved through fields sowing seed.
They touched earth and grain grew.
They were full of sturdiness and singing.
My grandmothers were strong.
grandma laundry

My grandmother Annie Schmidt doing laundry on her back porch

My grandmothers are full of memories

Smelling of soap and onions and wet clay
With veins rolling roughly over quick hands
They have many clean words to say.
My grandmothers were strong.
Why am I not as they?
I often think of the hard lives my grandmothers had and how despite this they remained kind, caring, open hearted women with a sense of humour. They inspire me. I come from a lineage of strong women. 
Other posts………

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The Song My Paddle Sings

Be strong O paddle!  Be brave canoe!  The reckless waves you must plunge into!

winnipeg singersThat’s a line from  poem by Emily Pauline Johnson called The Song my Paddle Sings.  At their most recent concert featuring Canadian composers the Winnipeg Singers performed a musical version of the poem.  Listening to them brought back lots of memories for me.  

My grade four class at Kornelson School. I am third from the right in the last row. 

My grade four teacher Miss Toews made me memorize the poem My Song My Paddle Sings and I recited it during a parents day performance.  I still remember every line of the poem that tells the story of a sailor going from calm waters to churning rapids and back again. 

emilyEmily Pauline Johnson was a Mohawk poet who became famous as a touring artist. She went across North America reciting her poetry.  Her father was a First Nations chief and her mother an Englishwoman so Emily grew up influenced by two different cultures.  Her aboriginal name was Tekahionwake.  

I used to do a unit of Emily Pauline Johnson poems with my grade eleven English classes.   Although The Song My Paddle Sings is about a nature experience Emily did not shy away from writing about controversial issues as she did in her poem A Cry From An Indian Wife where she looks at who really owns Canadian land.   

Emily was featured on a Canadian stamp in 1961 and was one of the Canadians under consideration for the first woman to be featured on a bank-note in 2018. She wasn’t chosen but her poetry lives on in people’s minds and hearts and also in music like the beautiful piece I heard at the Winnipeg Singers concert.

Other posts……..

Flunky Jim and Gopher Tails With Grandpa

Lessons from Leonard

Getting to Know Oviloo

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Katherena Vermette on the Wall

the breakKatherena Vermette came away from the Manitoba Book Awards with three prizes for her novel The Break.  She received the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award, the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction as well as the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award.  Although I would encourage you to buy her novel as well as her book of poetry North End Love Songs a taste of Katherena’s wordsmithing skill is available to everyone even if they can’t afford her published work. 

I pass one of Katherena’s poems almost everyday as I walk through Winnipeg’s downtown area.  It is called pieces and is inscribed on a wall at the north end of Portage Avenue flanked on either side by the work of local artists. 

pieces by katherena vermette

Other posts………..

Spring and Love

Fifteen Dogs and Writing Poetry

The Comfort of a Poem 

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Spring and Love

spring by louis bako

The red Chinese character is for love.  It is superimposed on the green character for spring.  I’ve walked by this painting on a Portage Avenue wall a hundred times but finally decided last week to stop to photograph it. The work is titled Spring Over Love Under and is by Louis C. Bako a Winnipeg artist who was born in Hungary.

The painting brings to mind a line from Le Miserables by Victor Hugo.  

If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring.

Other posts…….

It Must Be Spring

Inspiration to Speed the Coming of Spring

Hope

 

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He Watches. He Listens. He Thinks. He Writes.

Paterson is calm and thoughtful.  It is almost impossible to upset him.  He follows basically the same routine every day.  Gets up. Has cereal for breakfast. Drives his city bus route. Listens to his passengers talk to one another. Listens to his supervisor complain about his life. Goes home. Eats the supper his wife has prepared and listens to her tell him about her latest creative project- decorating cupcakes, making curtains or learning to play country music on the guitar.  Takes his wife’s dog Marvin for a walk. Stops at the local pub for one beer and a chat with the bartender.  Goes back home. Goes to bed.  

patersonBut while Paterson is doing all these seemingly routine things he is also intimately observing the world around him, carefully considering every little thing he sees and listening thoughtfully to what people say. And then he writes poetry about his observations and reflections in a small brown notebook he keeps with him almost all the time. He rarely shows his wife these poems, never shows them or reads them to anyone else, and despite his wife’s constant urging never makes copies of them.  

Paterson was the main character in a movie we saw last Sunday.  The film moves quite slowly but in doing so invites the viewer to become calm and watch the story unfolding on the screen in the careful, patient, observant way of the film’s protagonist. 

In  conversation with my brother who saw the film with me, I realized that although my personality is quite different from Paterson’s we have some similarities.  I also like to observe, listen, think and write about things I encounter each day. But unlike Paterson, who keeps his writing to himself, I have a need to share mine with others. Hence this blog.  

Other posts…………

Warms Your Heart and Makes You Laugh Out Loud

This is Just to Say

The Poetry of Boxing

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The Comfort of A Poem

Today is World Poetry Day and so I offer you a poem from Madeleine L’Engle’s book A Ring of Endless Light.  This poem brought me immense comfort during perhaps the saddest time of my life when I experienced a series of pregnancy losses.  

The earth will never be the same again
Rock, water, tree, iron, share this grief
As distant stars participate in the pain.
A candle snuffed, a falling star or leaf,
……O this particular loss
is Heaven-mourned; for if no angel cried
when this small one was tossed away as dross,
The very galaxies would have lied.
How shall we sing our love’s song now
In this strange land where all are born to die?
Each tree and leaf and star show how
The universe is part of this one cry,
Every life is noted and is cherished,
and nothing loved is ever lost or perished.

What poems have made a difference in your life? 

each tree and leaf and star……….

Other posts……

The Poetry of Boxing

Fifteen Dogs and Writing Poetry

Dancing in Shangri-La

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My Love is Like…I Loved My Creative Students

When I taught high school English one of my quick write assignments was to read the first stanza of this famous Robert Burns poem and then write a new version. 

rose-creative-commonsBurns wrote……..

My love is like a red, red rose
That is newly sprung in June
O, my love is like a melody,
That is sweetly played in tune.

While cleaning out some old school files I found these versions my students had penned. Amazing what they could come up with in just a few minutes .

Oh your love is like a mirage
Looks great from far away
But the closer that you get to me
The more grows my dismay.

Your love is like a nice warm lap
A place for me to hide
Your love is like a watermelon
Plain rind but rich inside.

Your love is like a sequoia
That towering, invincible tree
Your love is like a magic wand
That sets my spirit free.

Oh your love is like a racing train
My life all filled with smoke
Oh your love is like a cherry pit
Small enough to make me choke.

Your love is like a cookie
Decadent, rich sweet dough
Your love is like a leech
It never lets me go. 

Our love is like a glass of wine
That sweetly intoxicates me

Our love is like a fire
So passionate are we. 

Somedays I miss teaching and the stunning creativity of my students. 

Other posts…..

The Poetry of Boxing

Aunt Vi’s Autograph Book

Poetry and Teenagers

 

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