I have read Rita Bouvier’s previous work more in-depth but wanted to read this new book of poetry for review. I thoroughly enjoyed the natural aspects of it – this book was full of images from back home (we are both from the North of Saskatchewan) as well as the conflict of ideas within reconciliation. Some poems I read for review were:
at Granville and West Georgia – p.14
The poem is about a woman who is walking a man walk down the sidewalks of downtown Vancouver. He is wearing “a coat of many colours” (making me think of that biblical story) and flowing ribbons (making me think of ribbon shirts). He is a colourful man feeding nature, surrounded by concrete and steel. The world transforms around him where “concrete structures” and now “tall cedars – waving their arms in the ocean breeze.” He dances across the street and stops to “bow in reverence / to the birds and squirrels foraging for food.” She watches people walk by as he talks to himself, noting that “their eyes glazed straight ahead, they pretend / not to notice him or each other” and she wonders “why / we are so afraid to make eye contact.” She thinks that maybe it will be because we recognize that we share one light.
I really enjoyed the story carried throughout this poem of being an observer of a man who stands out, being shown through the poem from someone who also sees him as different, and may identify more with the passerby people than she does with the man in the streets, but is honest in how she wants to watch an not participate in the world.
why does the fiddle sound? (for John Arcand) – p.43
This is a love poem to the fiddle, to the community spirit it brings, to the culture it helped define. Th first stanza reflect upon the sound of the fiddle where “poplar trees seem to sway in line” and “the sounds of stomping feet reel / jig, jigging high above the ground” permeate the poem, setting the reader in a place of music and dance. The second and third stanza shows the loneliness that the fiddle has entered of women watching the boats pull away, of water against the shoreline. Then it’s shown growth and companionship as the guitar joins in, and they “waltz, waltzing Serrazin / on rolling logs down, down the river.” The final stanza is a contrast of the laziness of summer and the quickness of heels as a fiddle is picked up “up the tempo just one more time, John! / bring us home!”
I enjoyed this as I feel it brings the reader inside very quickly, placing us within music and idealism and that happy mood that a good, strong tempo can bring. It reminded me of home, and of course that made me feel strongly for it. She paints images within this short poem of womanhood, companionship, the hardworking nature of men, and the general affection and laughter of Metis people.
remembering Charlie – p.50
In this poem, the reader is introduced to Charlie, who has died. We see that his aunt blames the school as “he was malnourished – / hi body physically beaten / and psychologically abused – / forbidden to speak Cree.” And that sorry does not take away the pain. His mother wasn’t told why, and she was left wondering why his school couldn’t be closer to his home and family. The last stanza shows us that Charlie “wanted to be home” and “he was twelve.”
This poem is achingly sad. The people remembering him are his aunt and mother, two matriarchs. This is his honouring, continuing to speak his story. They speak of his home, his community, his family, his language, his likes and dislikes, his animals, his role inter community – and how that was taken. It’s sad.
not just another keynote on Indigenous education – p.70
This is a poem drenched in images and places of nature, gathering power when the speaker “seek to the moose” and “soar with the eagle” and “sing with raven.” Where the reader Flies above mountain heights and hides in the shades of trees and drinks from a river. Showing that paying attention to nature is education, that Indigenous education comes from the land and animals. That respecting earth is paramount to gaining insight into Indigenous education.
buy the book: nakamowin’sa – for the seasons, Rita Bouvier