This blog post is dedicated to Garry Gottfriedson who has taught me how to amplify my voice. Garry is a Secwepemc writer from the interior of BC. Garry spent a lot of time teaching me through experiential learning of how to edit and construct my writing. He led me to exploring my own voice. The gift he has given me, is deeply appreciated.
The story of Garry and I met can be found in this story: Spirit of the Knife.
I have been invited by Garry, and retired indigenous lawyer/writer Michelle Good, to read at Garry’s book launch for his book: Deaf Heaven.
There is an old battle, between poets and law. This battle has not disappeared. Plato represents Law, and legal educators are proving to me that poetry is still perceived as a threat.
(Please play this song and read the lyrics provided, and then replay while you read this blog article; I whole heartedly recommend that people put this song on loop for your own enjoyment. This song is still one of my all time favourites.)
In an ancient time Plato threatened to force out, BANISH, all of the poets out from the city. Here is a quick summary of the battle between LAW v POEtry:
“Plato, an ancient Greek philosopher, was a student of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle. Writing during the mid-4th century, BCE, he founded an academy in Athens, Greece. His philosophical writings are primarily in the form of dialogues (the form became known as the “Socratic dialogue”), where truths are revealed by a series of questions and inferences based on the questions and their responses. In simplified terms, he believed that abstract ideas and truths exist in a place beyond the material objects of the world. The term “platonic” has come to mean pure or lofty. In Books III and X of the Republic, Plato addresses the problem of poets. He deduces that they are imitators of the world, and therefore far from the truth: “the tragic poet is an imitator, and therefore, like all other imitators, he is thrice removed from the king and from the truth.” The other dangers of poets are that they corrupt youth and incite the passions instead of the faculties of reason. The poet, “with his words and phrases,” is able to convince listeners that he knows what he speaks of: “such is the sweet influence which melody and rhythm by nature have.” Poetry, including the narratives of others’ lives, appeals to the emotions; it “feeds and waters the passions instead of drying them up; she lets them rule, although they ought to be controlled, if mankind are ever to increase in happiness and virtue.” In Book X, Plato concludes that poetry must be banished from the hypothetical, ideal society; however, if poetry makes “a defense for herself in lyrical or some other meter,” she may be allowed to return from exile.”
Here was my response written in 2012 when I was a social work student doing research on the use of poetry in scholarship:
POE = Product Of Environment + try = POEtry = survival through writing
This was written before I applied to law school. As it turns out my law school seems to dislike my poetry. There exists an ancient cultural-ideological divide between those who hold legal-power and those who use creative expression.
All of this reminds me of these events:
People often ask me about this tattoo.
It was the last of the one’s from my old life. Here is a picture, then a list of symbolism and then a poem.
1. Pierced to skin, like I am stuck to physical life (or as my friend Ange Sterrit said to me when we lived on the streets together; stuck on the physical plain)
2. Rope/noose is my suicide attempts
3. Stitched doll is a product of society or POE: Product Of Environment. The singleness of character of the doll is me being alone and hanging out in life. Anonymous or unidentifiable doll is that it could be me or many of my friends and many other youth in society…many people like me
4. Xs as eyes is intoxication
5. The tongue hanging out is being exhausted from physical life
6. The pins are 3 white power tattoos on front of my body and two white power tattoos on back of my body
This is not a poem. One of the things I have learnt is that my writing, much like many things about me, doesn’t fit inside a box. I colour outside of the lines and often end up challenging systems, institutions, and social norms as a result of that. It seems resistance, rebellion, and revolution are elements within my molecular structure. Ingrained to walk against the grain.
Time and time again the feedback I get on my poetic narratives are too declarative. So I have decidedly to stop calling my writing “poetry.” I had only adhered to the term poetry because everyone else calls it “poetry.” From now on I will refer to my writing as declarative poetic narratives.
Here is piece that comes from my first manuscript: A Declarative Poetic Narrative of a Bruise Faced Child
This piece is called to the blogosphere tonight after I was flooded with several memories from my childhood. The brutal rape of my mother that I witnessed at a young age, the beatings I endured, and the lonely wandering on BC highways and the mean streets of down town east Vancouver. Sometimes the best way for me to push out these memories is to write declarative poetic narratives, other times to read my already written memories and only sometimes am I compelled to blog ’em.
This poem was written with the inspiration from Chrystal Desharmais’s Painting “The Healer” which was exhibited at the Groop Gallery. My writing mentor said that this painting reminded him of Goya‘s work. I listened to his passionate description of Goya’s work and the stories that go with his paintings. I realized that morning while me and my mentor were talking that art can have a deep profound connectivity. I reflected on how honoured I am to be asked by Al Rempel to participate in this type of event.