POETS RESIST: NPM ON ALL LIT UP

This content has been provided by All Lit Up, an online bookstore and blog run by the Literary Press Group for readers of emerging, quirky, and unabashedly Canadian literature by some of Canada’s finest independent publishers.

We are so excited to be able to share some amazing National Poetry Month content from our friends over at All Lit Up! Over the next several weeks, we’ll be sharing snippets of the fantastic posts All Lit Up is preparing for their celebration of National Poetry Month. You can read them all in full as they are released on the All Lit Up blog, and we’re looking forward to a month of poetry as resistance:

Fists up for National Poetry Month! And we mean that in the best way possible. This year, we feel everyone could see a little more solidarity and community, so we’re getting poetically political with Poets Resist, a series dedicated to poetry as a form of resistance. Every day on the blog we will feature a poet whose work explores one of these: colonialism and violence, homophobia and transphobia, environmental destruction, and/or the !@#$% patriarchy.

This opening week of National Poetry Month is highlighting poets resisting colonialism and violence.

In her very personal poetry collection, Burning in this Midnight Dream (Coteau Books) Louise Bernice Halfe responds to the feelings that arose during the Truth and Reconciliation process, touching on how the experiences of residential school children continue to haunt those who survive, and how the effects are passed down for generations.

ALU: If you were protesting colonialism, what would your protest sign read?

LBH: We are Still HERE.

ALU: What does poetry as resistance mean to you?

LBH: I reveal the truth behind the government and the churches’ lies. I celebrate the continuity of life and culture. My poetry celebrates the endurance and strength of the people. I celebrate the ceremonies that were once outlawed. This is what poetry as resistance means to me.

Read the full interview with Louise Bernice Halfe, as well as an excerpt from Burning in this Midnight Dream, on the All Lit Up blog.

Janet Rogers’ fourth collection  Totem Poles and Railroads (ARP Books) interrogates Canada’s often hurtful relationship with Indigenous Peoples in the post-TRC era of our history. Rogers writes poems as fierce reactions to current events and to the “historical record” of Canadian dogma.

ALU: If you were protesting colonialism, what would your protest sign read?

JR: “Reciprocity.” There are so many meaningful slogans being shared around today for example “Nothing about us without us” meaning we, as Indigenous people need to have important and meaningful positions in any and all governance in regards to our bodies, our culture, our lands and our future. Better yet, we set the political and cultural standards by which we wish to live and conduct ourselves and have the colonial government bend to our policies and laws. Reciprocity of land and resources could ensure equality between nations and would most certainly establish equal treatment of Indigenous peoples with this corporation/country when we have an equal say in how we manage our lands rather than constantly being considered wards of the government and being told how our future will unfold. Also “Dissolve the Treaties” is a good one.

Read the full interview with Janet Rogers, as well as an excerpt from Toten Poles and Railroads, on the All Lit Up blog.

Garry Gottfriedson’s  Deaf Heaven (Ronsdale Press) is our third feature in our National Poetry Month series, Poets Resist. Published in 2016, his poetry collection explores postcolonial issues while also paying attention to First Nations internal problems with a fresh, provocative perspective.

ALU: What does poetry as resistance mean to you? 

GG: Poetry as resistance to me means that there are vital issues still unresolved, and that must be addressed in order for all to live in a harmonious way. Canadians have inherited a dirty part of history that they are naive about. Nevertheless, the historical wrongs and injustices still must be dealt with in order for Canada and First Nations to move forward in a respectful relationship. I think that resistance measures challenge the politics and attitudes of the day. Poets have done this for centuries. To resist poetically is nothing new: poets from Dante to Ginsberg to Cohen have done this. What is different now is that the First Nations in Canada (and in the USA) have captured the artistic language that awakens people to the issues. The rise of the Indigenous voice has gained a strong presence over the past few decades. Publishers have seen merit in the voice of Indigenous writers and have taken a chance on us. Many of us began to write about the issues, history, and context in which we live here in Canada. Much of our work is about resistance. To resist anything is an indicator that something is not right. To resist poetically awakens souls to question and examine what is not right in society. Poetry, like song, is a powerful means of resistance. It can move people to think, to educate, to engage and to finally take action. When all of these are combined, there is tremendous power in words. I resist because I am human. I resist because there is a need for an awakening.

Read the full interview with Garry Gottfriedson, as well as an excerpt from Deaf Heaven, on the All Lit Up blog.

Operations is the colloquial title of Moez Surani’s most recent book from BookThug: its official title is the word “Operation” in the six official languages of the United Nations. This “poetic inventory” lists the military operations conducted by UN member nations since its inception in 1945, when its signatories pledged to promote and further world peace. Read “1997” from Operations, and then our interview with Surani, where he expands on the role of language in both perpetrating and witnessing violence.

ALU: If you were protesting state violence, what would your protest sign read?

MS: Since Operations is a critique of slogans and a caution against the seductive power they have, the honest answer is that I don’t feel comfortable relying on slogans. I use books and art pieces to express my point of view.

ALU: Why did you write this collection?

MS: As I researched these names, I saw this poem that the 193 countries were inadvertently working together on and I wanted to research it as thoroughly as I could so this string of rhetoric could be seen by others.

Read the full interview with Moez Surani, as well as an excerpt from Operations, on the All Lit Up blog.