Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Magnificent (a poem for Colten Boushie) by Lesley Strutt

I would like to dedicate this poem to Colten and all those who are grieving for him, who feel lost, frightened, unheard, unseen, excluded, trapped by systems that do not support them.

The Magnificent   
                 
You are prism, you are kaleidoscope.
The light passes through you. Don’t give yourself away.

Feel for the light. It’s there somewhere.
It may be hidden but it’s there.

Believing this is better than not believing this.
Even if you don’t believe it search for the light anyway.

The darkness is not the enemy. There is only
this moment and what you do with it.

Practicing the light makes more light.
It may not be much at first. Practice the light anyway.

You are magnificent. Know this even in the face of ignorance.
Life is waiting to blaze through you.


Lesley Strutt is a member of PEN Canada and the League of Canadian Poets.  


Friday, March 2, 2018

Colten Boushie by Douglas Sinclair

Colten Boushie

is dead
is / was
only 22
a young man
an Indian
growing up
in a white land
expunged
by
the finger
(flip a bird)
on a trigger
squeezed
by a farmer
who chose
to point
death
at a frightened youth
and two girls
who did
what exactly
as they sat 
in that car
with a flat tire
its windshield
shattered
by a hammer’s
sharp assault
what exactly
was their threat
surrounded
by a marauding 
father and son
intent on
what exactly
with three trapped
kids
staring
at a loaded gun
Indian kids
trespassers
on white land
branded
as aliens
outsiders foreigners
in their own land
natives
on native land
First Nations
whose backyard 
was once 
bigger
than Saskatchewan
with no borders
no fences
now squeezed
onto 14,000 acres
corralled
like a herd
of animals
sub-human
in a cage
in a car
with no escape
from a white man
with a gun
with God and country
on his side
“this land is my land”
as he squeezed 
the trigger
Oops!
Oh well 
It’s only an Indian.

Douglas Sinclair is a retired poet/high tech sales guy living in Toronto who also happens to be a member of the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba and has been involved in the indigenous community in Toronto for a number of years as a former President and board member of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto. He self-published one book of poetry “reflections from a broken stream” and has lived in Toronto for 41 years now with his wife and three adult daughters in Toronto, Victoria and Brooklyn, NY.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Dukkha by Naomi Beth Wakan (for Colten Boushie)


My DNA is crammed
with thousands of years
of persecution and pogroms,
of expulsions and
lives lived in perpetual exile,
so when I hear
of injustice anywhere
(as large as genocide, or
as small as one neighbor
maligning another),
immediately my cells
line up in indignation
and words of protest
overwhelm my mind.
The headline read
“Man Kills Boy”.
No, let me correct that,
“White man kills Indigenous youth.” 
Yes, that’s the trigger,
the trigger that floods
me with images
of Inca-killing Spaniards,
of Leopold’s slaughter in the Congo,
of Mao and Stalin and Pol Pot,
the Armenians, Rwanda, Srebrenica, 

the Kurds, the Isaaqs, the Rohingya, 
and here and there and everywhere
the indigenous people of those lands, 
and for all times and all places
always the Jews, the perpetual Jews . . .


The snapshots pale, and
I am left, once more,
with the stark image
of one white man killing 

one indigenous youth.
An image that may well 

tear a country in shreds. 
And, uncertain what to do, 
I turn to my husband,
who answers my unspoken question
in his usual simple way.
“Life is complex,”
is what he says. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Poetry That Heals by Naomi Beth Wakan


How can poetry heal? Naomi Beth Wakan shows us through a tour of the different forms of Japanese poetry and ultimately answers the question.

Each chapter pairs the poetic form with the way healing intersects with reading and writing. But first the author asks “Who has not at times of distress sighed, groaned, cried and let out an anguished “Why?””

Chapter headings read like a self help guide: Being Here Now, Reading Haiku, How to Write a Haiku, The Haiku Walk, Healing the Earth, Loosening with Laughter, Freeing the Artist, Letting it all out, The Journey.

How can poetry heal? Naomi Beth Wakan shows us through a tour of the different forms of Japanese poetry and ultimately answers the question.

Each chapter pairs the poetic form with the way healing intersects with reading and writing. But first the author asks “Who has not at times of distress sighed, groaned, cried and let out an anguished “Why?””

Chapter headings read like a self help guide: Being Here Now, Reading Haiku, How to Write a Haiku, The Haiku Walk, Healing the Earth, Loosening with Laughter, Freeing the Artist, Letting it all out, The Journey. But it’s not shallow advice, not a quick-fix-buy-this kind of magical thinking.

Writers throughout took to writing stuff down as a powerful antidote to despair even in the most sad and tragic times. Even sadness expressed at a particular event can fight against depression.  Poems that witness minutes, seconds, days or years, without rushing toward a solution, are revealing an element about life which the ego matures and understands - we are not in control.

Having experienced that catatonic flood. That rock in the stomach that prevents a move forward, that inner system bunged up with too much information for the mind and heart to process, I have turned to something unrelated to gain balance, and it has often given me new insights.

Being Here Now (the first chapter) shuts the door to all the weather swirling around and points to a particular moment: the heron / looks at its image / shallow waters. Nature offers a  returns to the universe. Ah yes, right.  Got it! Vanity is a lonely pursuit.

Reading Haiku and How to Write Haiku is makes it clear this book is not a guide on how to become a post-modern Basho. “Haiku don’t tell you what to think or what insights they might offer.” writes Wakan. “Haiku present images for readers to consider and then experience the resonances within themselves that the strong images of the haiku produce.”

The Haiku Walk is about reconnecting with nature, the eyes, the ears and the mind, using our own feet. 

Healing the Earth when there is so much abuse of this planet and its beings,  “you will find no despairing comments … No “it’s so bad!” or “it’s so terrible! Nor will you find overt comments on the awesome wonder of it all. What you will find is just what someone has sensed intensely at one moment in time.”

This is easier to contemplate than lists of what we can do and what we can’t control, or endless arguments about politics … the promise of a better world and better leaders, and the inevitable hangover after the “drug” wears off.

Anything we cherish needs more care than clever speeches from politicians. It needs a level gaze. It needs to be nurtured.  The difference between sadness and despair is that sadness can evoke our care, whereas despair can lock the heart and mind in a vault.

The poet will share an opinion with humility through careful observation with her senses and her humanity.  “Yes, at such bitter and such sweet times poetry has its uses, I find.” writes Wakan.

This books taps into human nature - the apps that we are born with, that have served us throughout the centuries: the power of humour, freeing the artist, letting it all out, and the journey. 

This book is light in weight and size yet large in its capacity to bring us back to our humanity.

[published by Shanti Arts Publishing 2018
first published in 2014 by Pacific Rim Publishers]
In Canada you can order the book here mail@pagesresort.com 
In US here info@ShantiArts.com

BODY, MIND & SPIRIT / Healing / General
POETRY / Haiku

ISBN: 978-1-947067-28-8 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
ISBN: 978-1-947067-29-5 (digital)

LCCN: 2017964362
Released February 2018
104 pages

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Glow of a Young Face (for Colten Boushie)


Colten Boushie's life ended at twenty two.
I never met him but his existence met me.
Interrupted my perceptions about people.
About my people who clean their houses.
Wash their clothes. Read books.
Listen to the news.
My people who have a lot to say about right and wrong.
People who have clean tap water and cheap food.
Who had three meals a day and a clean classroom
to go to in their formative years.
Who watch TV dramas about Queen Victoria.
Her marbled halls and floors. Her servants.
Their extravagant clothes and hats.
My people who grew up in the age of hope.
Who benefitted from that deep well
of social contracts, a society where
we armed ourselves with opinions
mostly kept to ourselves
keeping the streets free of our tempers
that we have now lost.
A privilege to get over because the stealing 
was done before we came and it was much more
than a wheel or a tire. It's time to give back
to the young faces and young hearts
something to live for.



Sunday, February 11, 2018

Poems for Colten Boushie

We shall not forget you. We shall not simply pass this day of injustice as though it's business as usual - because it certainly isn't justice.

If you want to read about it go here Toronto Star: Our Reaction to Injustice by Shree Paradkar 

As a memorial project consider writing a poem for Colten, and send it to Lipstick Press (lipstickpress@shaw.ca). We shall post some of them.

It's not enough. It's no substitute for justice, clean water, schools and respect for our original peoples. But it is a protest against the shame of racist attitudes.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Introduction to Writing Japanese Poetry with Naomi Beth Wakan

INTRODUCTION TO WRITING JAPANESE POETRY 

Learn about two time-honoured forms of Japanese poetry – haiku (the poetry of the senses, probably the most difficult poetry form to write) and tanka (the longest continually written poetry form). This workshop is suitable both for poets (emerging or experienced) and non-poets. This workshop will expand your genre as writers and deepen your understanding as readers.

TIME: April 14th, 2 – 3:30 pm
PLACE: Nanaimo Museum, corner of Commercial Street and Museum Way
FEE: $25

TO REGISTER: C. Beryl
crone562003@yahoo.com

FACILITATOR: Naomi Beth Wakan is a personal essayist and poet. She is the Inaugural Poet Laureate of Nanaimo. She has written over fifty books including the prize-winning Haiku – one breath poetry, (Heian International) and, most recently, The Way of Tanka (Shanti Arts). 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Drumbeg House Studio Annual Sale

The Wakans cordially invite you to

DRUMBEG HOUSE STUDIO ANNUAL SALE



Elias Wakan: Sculpture (some of the smaller pieces will be up for silent auction)
Naomi Beth Wakan: Books (including her recent title, “Back and Forth”) and her now famous poetry bags.

Time: Sunday, August 27th, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Place: 3085 Mander Road (first road to the right off Stalker)
Refreshments
Everyone Welcome (family, friends and house guests are welcome too )
10% of the sales will go to The Commons
This is a free event

Off-islanders, there is good swimming close by. 
www.eliaswakan.com                 www.naomiwakan.com

Naomi Beth Wakan
3085 Mander Rd
Gabriola, BC,  V0R 1X7


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Saturday, May 6, 2017

News from David Fraser

The dust has settled after the fantastic Spring Writes Festival hosted by the Federation of BC writers in Nanaimo at the end of April.

Wordstorm had their monthly event at St Paul's Church on the Thursday April 27. The place was packed with over 50 people attending with four featured readers including Nanaimo's poet laureates. Readers collaborated with dance artists through the Crimson Coast Dancers to make an interesting evening of dance and words.

This May the Living Room Continues at the Harbourfront Library May 11, 5:00 to 6:30, so bring your work prose or poetry to share.

15 Minutes of Infamy May 17


The Magnificent (a poem for Colten Boushie) by Lesley Strutt

I would like to dedicate this poem to Colten and all those who are grieving for him, who feel lost, frightened, unheard, unseen, excluded...