Sunday, March 24, 2019

Poetry Pantry #444

Happy Sunday, fellow poets. We hope you're doing well.  I wanted to share with you the heartbreaking sweetness, hope and love of these Syrian children, singing, and still dreaming,  in their war-demolished country. For them, we wish a world of justice and peace.

On Friday, we featured Canadian poet activist Rita Wong, who is working hard to protect the Peace River valley, in northern B.C., under threat from the controversial Site C dam project. She is a wonderful poet; her poem about Site C is very stirring. She even stopped by and left us a comment!

Tomorrow we are featuring Poems of the Week by three of our most faithful members. And on Wednesday Sumana's prompt will be Solitude, which should bring some wonderful responses.

For now, with the last notes of these beautiful children's song echoing in our hearts, let's share some poetry and dream they may live into the tomorrow they deserve.

Friday, March 22, 2019


Rita Wong

In protecting the Peace
Named for where the Cree and Dane-zaa ended their war
Where medicines and food grow
Where forests and farmlands are our best hope for a future
Where women like Helen Knott stand with her ancestors
Where we have the opportunity to stand with her,
                                                       even to sing together
Where the wise ones are dancing with decolonization

Conciliation is an invitation
For settlers to understand that the electricity we use 

in Vancouver
Comes from the sacrifices of the TseKehNay
Whose homes were destroyed so we could turn on the lights
An invitation
For settlers and unsettlers to understand what it means to be
a good neighbour, a better guest
For settlers and unsettlers to give back to the land
To have the opportunity for reciprocity
For dignity, for human care
For a better future than the history that haunts us
If there is an art to reconciliation
It will appear in voluntary simplicity, getting back to basics
Like earning trust through loving the river; loving the land
If there is an art to reconciliation
It will be when governments understand that
Violence on the land
Is violence on our bodies
When we all stand with Indigenous communities
                                        to end environmental
When people from all four directions come together
                                             for landbodydefense
When we understand how precious and priceless
                                      clean air and water are
When we understand what cannot be bought is what matters
May conciliation
Help us to see
Our lives as walking (prayer)
Camping (prayer)
Last ditch (prayer)
For with the flick of a light switch
                                       we see
The Peace River’s fate
                     is ours

The Peace - source

"To understand what it means to be a better guest." I so wish I had written this poem, but could not have aspired to such heights. It is so powerful in its truth, and its reminder that we are guests here - on traditional territory, and on Mother Earth. 

In northern B.C., and at rallies throughout the province, indigenous people and environmentalist allies are protesting the proposed flooding of Site C in the Peace River area for a controversial hydroelectric project that makes no economic or environmental sense. Over the opposition of a majority of B.C. voters, the powers-that-be are blindly determined to go ahead with it. (First Nations, the B.C. government and B.C. Hydro were in B.C. Supreme Court on February 28 to set a trial date of March 2022. Thus, a ruling will come before the proposed flooding of the dam reservoir area in 2023. The Peace may yet be saved.)

Rita Wong is a Canadian poet/activist, whose work reflects her concern about social and environmental issues. She grew up in Calgary, Alberta, and her first poem was published in the Calgary Sun when she was in grade five. Ms Wong says songs were important to her in her teens, and she studied song lyrics. She was an avid reader as well. Both activities likely led to her journey as a poet.

Ms Wong says a poet’s job is “to be curious, pay attention to the world around you and your feelings, and share what you feel, love and question. This includes speaking truth to power.”

Ms Wong has five previous books of poetry out: sybil unrestforage, undercurrent, perpetual, and monkeypuzzle.  She has won the Asian Canadian Writers Workshop Emerging Writer award, and the Dorothy Livesay Poetry prize.

A notable poem, and Ms Wong's sixth book, (with Fred Wah), is “Beholden: A Poem as Long as the River”, a two-line inter-disciplinary image-poem that  flows along a 114-foot map of the Columbia River. The book is stunning, its concept inspired. The poem winds along the curves of the drawn map of the river, reflecting Ms Wong and fellow poet Fred Wah’s concern about the consequences of the hydroelectric manipulation of one of Canada’s largest river systems, which would devastate that northern area, and the lives of all beings who live there.

(Interestingly, today is World Water Day, perfect for contemplation of the life of rivers and all fresh-water sources. Water is life.)

Ms Wong now lives in Vancouver, B.C. She is an associate professor in critical and cultural studies at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

I so admire a poet who uses her platform to address social and environmental issues. This poet is one newly introduced to me, and one whose work I will follow with interest and admiration.

Sources: Poetry In Voice

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Empowerment

“Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. 
Unfold your own myth.” 
― Rumi

image 0
"Give a man a fish you feed him for a day, 
teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
― Marianne Williamson, "A Course in Miracles"

"The term empowerment refers to measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. It is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights. Empowerment as action refers both to the process of self-empowerment and to professional support of people, which enables them to overcome their sense of powerlessness and lack of influence, and to recognize and use their resources.  
"To do work with power."
Empowering Quotes by Inspirational Women | Of Mercer Blog

Midweek Motif ~  Empowerment

I developed this empowerment motif because it's women's history month. While researching it, I discovered that most places in the world have initiatives for the empowerment of social groups such as people of color, youth, women, gender and sexual diversities, and the aging, the disabled, etc. Empowerment is also a huge goal for individuals. Of course, initiatives exist because of ongoing dis-empowerment.  We seek solutions.

Related image
(Forgive me for using this without permission.)

At what are you empowered?  
What has contributed most to your empowerment?  
Where would you like to see more (or less) empowerment?

Your Challenge:  Write a new and strong empowerment poem. (Though I focus on women below, you need not focus on women in your poem.)

Won't you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

They shut me up in Prose – (445)
They shut me up in Prose –
As when a little Girl
They put me in the Closet –
Because they liked me “still”   –

Still! Could themself have peeped –
And seen my Brain – go round –
They might as wise have lodged a Bird
For Treason – in the Pound –

Himself has but to will
And easy as a Star
Look down upon Captivity –
And laugh – No more have I –

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.   
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   

I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community—

(Next week Sumana’s Midweek Motif will be ~ Solitude.)