Well, the poetry contest I promoted (I am a Human Being) is over now and the winners have been selected. Deanna Young, who was the Poet Laureate for the City of Ottawa before my tenure as Laureate began, acted as judge. The poems submitted were amazing and so very much appreciated. The words of the poems were eloquently crafted and carefully put together. Powerful statements, strong perspectives of what it is to be a human being were produced. It made me very proud!
What I will ask of all the poets who took time out of their lives to write a poem about their human emotions, that they allow me to place their poems into a book which will be published at some point in the new year. I will personally edit the poems compiled from the book and will only proceed with publishing the poems after receiving full consent of the poet. A book will be produced and sold with 100% of the proceeds going towards promoting poetry as medicine and as a healer.
The winners are:
1st Place: Mark Frutkin
2nd Place: Seané D’Argencourt Printup
3rd Places (5):
Please find below, the winning poems:
I Am a Human Being
Everything is falling exactly
as it should this morning –
the shadow on the windowsill,
the sunlight on the same,
the present moment
between past and future,
heaven and earth,
each of us exactly
at the centre of the circle
of the horizon,
the need for love.
Seané D’Argencourt Printup:
My good heart, it lives in the eyes of each child
Where we hug and squeeze and somewhere (not too far)
A sweetgrass breeze eases a weary spirit.
I pour the flour (smiling), tuniit on these hands,
The oil fills the frying pan, bannock in the home
And in feeding family my good heart bursts.
When I go home, place this vessel beside my father,
And our good hearts to dust will become the soil for sage
And your granddaughter might pluck it, burn it, we hope.
Creator, qujannamiik for our breath,
Meegwetch for berry-stained smiles, filled to ripe with water
That carries this spirit home, to you.
i remember my dad telling me about the thunder-beings
stories that connected me to the sky
he stands by the kitchen window, smoking and watching the storm
i remember feeling so small existing within the vastness of those sounds
he says to me
there is nothing to be afraid of my girl
opening my heart to the unseen
my dad’s stories were filled with depth and beings that my young mind tried to imagine
his words created worlds that made my little body feel so big and full
i asked so many questions, not able to tangibly hold their truths
there are things beyond our knowing, my girl
reminding me again and again
his stories gave me comfort through mystery
a ‘nish form of love that was shown to him
as my dad’s spirit makes its way home
i hold him and say
there is nothing to be afraid of
When my brother was three or so he was always getting in trouble
for having emotions in public places, like grocery aisles
With fat tears rolling down his cheeks he’d say something like:
“I’m a human bean! A human bean, Dad!”
Dad, always recently returned from military service
and never up-to-date on all the words we were learning
would move us along
irritated, uncertain, cold
no clue about little human beans
What my brother meant was, I made a mistake
or I didn’t understand or I’m just small and the world is so big
Are you mad at me?
Dad this is the human condition
Dad, Dad, Dad
I Am a Human Being
The light reflects
off a single strand of wampum string
The most exquisite blue
like the river that
brought you to me
Strong vivid clear water
shimmers, glints, and flows
Reaching, stretching outward
leading to another bigger
wave of brilliance
Giving back to its source
the light usurps the energy
takes you from me
but never gone
Reflecting on the single wampum string
the brightness returns
along the river
And brings new light
to shine again
Inspired by “Dark String” by Gregg Staats on display at The National Gallery of Canada
I’m a Human Being
pre-dawn dog walk past the Mission
fellow pushing a cart stops me:
“I’m a human being…
and a teacher you know.”
He looked up into the sky,
then back to me.
“Got a word for you… your homework:
I handed him some money –
he pushed it back with both hands.
“Give that to the next saint you meet,
there’s one just up the street.”
He gave his cart a big inertia breaking push
turned the corner singing.
Anishinaabe is not just a name for my people,
it represents who I am.
The one who carries the arrows in his pouch.
The one who picks medicine for his family.
The one who goes out at night to hunt for food in the wild.
We are Anishinaabe.
The people who walked on this land before time.
We help each other when needed.
We drum to the Creator to ask for guidance.
Creator gave us the Red Road,
which most of us still follow.
Let us celebrate the winners and also express hearty expressions of thanksgiving to all the talented poets who presented their poems to the contest. I salute you for your skill with words and your big human heart.
I look forward to further collaborations with all of you.
All the best,