A proud Moment in my Life’s Clock has come to pass

My poetry is being studied and reflected upon by all Grade 11 students of the OCDSB (see below) as part of their Indigenous Studies Program. WOW! Poetry for me, is something solemnly/joyfully produced from the life experiences of a human being. It takes roots in the mind and oftentimes, the roots travel from there to the good heart of the person who will piece together a poem, capable of bringing emotional and spiritual wellness to those who read it.

When I was a child going to school in Pontiac County, I had the misfortune to have a mean-spirited teacher who failed me in Grade 4. She did all she possibly could “to kill the Indian in the child” as instructed to do so by Canada’s first prime minister.

There she was again when I went into Grade 5 (after repeating Grade 4). Guess what? Yup, she failed me again in Grade 5. I met up with her again in Grade 8. Wouldn’t you know it, she failed me again. I want you to be aware that when she wasn’t my teacher I did well. I only failed when she was in charge of the lessons in the classroom. In her eyes, I was dumb and did not possess the ability to learn.

I don’t know what she would say today about me being chosen English Poet Laureate of Ottawa (2021-2023) and now having my poetry being emotionally and psychologically absorbed by Grade 11 students as part of the Board’s High School Curriculum. Maybe some day in the Spirit Land she will tell me “Albert, I’m so very proud of you!”

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind (Albert Dumont)

Introductory Lesson: Albert Dumont Poetry

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There is deep tradition and immense beauty steeped in poetry.  Poetry is one of the oldest forms of language and is rich in storytelling and tradition.  Poetry captures beauty in a moment, an experience or in one’s life.  It can capture the essence of being, identity and important messages and knowledge to share with generations to come. 

When reading poetry, it’s important to pace your reading, to read the poem aloud, pay close attention to the words used, their individual and collective meaning and most importantly, what is the poet trying to convey.  

Albert Dumont is an Algonquin poet, storyteller, speaker, traditional teacher and spiritual advisor.  He is Ottawa’s Poet Laureate.  Read, reflect and enjoy the poems from Albert’s anthology Sitting by Rapids. 

The following five poems are written by Albert Dumont. Each has questions to answer. You will submit answers to each question and one reflection. There is one dropbox at the end to submit your answers and reflection.

Albert Dumont’s “Sitting By the Rapids”

 where is the bird

  1. What effect does the repetition of the question “Where is the…” at the start of the first three verses have on the reader?  What is the poet trying to convey in repeating the question?
  2. Literary devices are prevalent in this poem.  Choose 2 examples of imagery and explain the importance of the use of sensory detail.  How does imagery help to convey the poet’s experience?
  3. What is meant by the following:
    1. My friend, the lake you search for/Is any of your territory….
    2. The trail leading to the circle/Is the only trail necessary
  4. What does the poem mean to you?  How does your knowledge of First Nations perspectives help you to understand this poem?

Record your answers to submit below.

To listen to Albert Dumont read his poem, press the arrow (play).

our young people

  1. How does the poem “our young people” voice the strength of First Nations people?  
  2. What is meant by the use of the simile “our young people…are like the dawning of a long anticipated spring?”
  3. How does the poet’s voice reveal determination for the future?

Record your answers to submit below.

To listen to Albert Dumont read his poem, press the arrow (play).

man of the blackberry moon

  1. The poet uses many examples of personification in nature to capture the importance of its identity.  What are two examples of personification and how do they contribute to the poet’s experience?
  2. What does the poet mean in the line for the balance in all things
  3. The symbol of the circle is prevalent in many of the poet’s poems.  What do you understand it to symbolize for the author?  Does the symbolism resonate with you and your life experience? Why, why not?
  4. What do you feel are the teachings of the blackberry moon? Does nature serve as a guide in your life? Reflect on your connection between the land, nature and your needs as a human.

Record your answers to submit below.

To listen to Albert Dumont read his poem, press the arrow (play).

Spring

  1. The poem Spring uses many active verbs to convey the meaning of the energy that nature has in one’s life.  Choose three active verbs and detail the contribution to the poem.
  2. Describe how Dumont establishes a distinctive voice in his poetry?  How does he modify language and tone skillfully to connect to the audience and convey purpose?
  3. Reflect on the final line of the poem The spirits of our sacred bundles, what does it mean to you?  What do you understand the poet is trying to convey to the audience?

Record your answers to submit below.

To listen to Albert Dumont read his poem, press the arrow (play).

leaf-bearing trees

  1. The first verse contrasts the second verse:
    1. What symbolism does the first verse convey?
    2. How does the second verse contrast to the first?
    3. How does the line I am as a leaf-bearing tree provide a transition.  What does the transition symbolize?
  1. What does the poet mean in the line, I am a leaf-bearing tree? What hope does this metaphor provide to the audience?
  2. Reflect back to the welcome video Albert shared at the start of the course. How does this poem of Albert’s connect to what was shared in the welcome video?

Record your answers to submit below.

To listen to Albert Dumont read his poem, press the arrow (play).

Reflection Questions about Albert Dumont’s poems:

  1. How does the poet use words to convey his voice?
  2. What questions would you ask Dumont about his approach to writing poetry?
  3. How has studying Dumont’s poetry help you build understanding of his Algonquin perspective? What key ideas stand out as important to the poet and how do they connect with your own learning about Algonquin perspectives?

Submit your answers to each set of questions and a reflection Albert Dumont Poetry Dropbox.

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2 Responses to A proud Moment in my Life’s Clock has come to pass

  1. Chantal Lalonde says:

    I don’t know about that teacher if she would ever say how proud she is of you, but OMG I am proud of you, so happy for you! These are great news, and what an honor that is. Take care!

  2. Rachèle Prud'homme says:

    Kwe Albert, I have all your books. I intend to read them again soon and take the time to go through the questions asked to students. You should be very proud of all your accomplishments.
    That teacher was the failure and her meanness is a reflection of her poor judgment. You are giving her the best lessons/teachings by being the great poet that you are.
    I attended your play ”Bloodline” at the NAC and again you proved to the best teacher. To me Reconciliation starts with education. I was proud to be in your classroom that evening. Keep writing. The world needs poetry!

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