MEET THE SHORTLIST: LOUISE BERNICE HALFE

burning_inthis_midnight_dreamLouise Bernice Halfe’s book Burning in This Midnight Dream is shortlisted for our 2017 Raymond Souster Award! As we near the awards ceremony where the winner will be announced, we wanted to take some time to meet the shortlisted poets and find out more about what inspired their most recent poetry collections. Below is an original poem by Louise that talks about her experience writing this exceptional collection of poems. First, let’s hear a little more about the book itself from Paulette Regan, who wrote the forward:

“Reconciliation has many pathways; writing poetry is one. Louise’s poems are teachings. She writes hard truths about what she and her parents suffered at the hands of the nuns and priests at residential school. She writes about secrets that haunt and silences kept, and about finding the strength to persevere. Sky Dancer’s poems are teachings. She writes about her nohkim and nimosom, her Cree grandparents, who know the old ways — the medicines, the pipe, the sweat lodge — and enjoyed the weath and dignity that came from living and working on their own land. Louise-Sky Dancer’s writing is both a courageous act of resistance and a reclaiming of culture, language, and the blood memory of her ancestors that despite the ravages of colonialism, is still written on her heart.”

The Raymond Souster Award shortlist also includes Barry Demptser, Beth Everst, Elee Kraljii Gardiner, Steven Heighton, and Dead Steadman. Find more Meet the Shortlist posts here!

The mood was the seasons that met with expansive

storms. The autumn wrathful winds stripped

the pathways to her soul.

Winter storms were frigid and heartless

where her heart thrashed against thistle walls.

Still she sat at the computer

met the white gaze with hard memories.

The spring melted snow and gave her moments

of sweet breath. Only to be met by

summer lightning. Its sizzle charred her

into welts of grief.

It was, she thought

like a conductor lifting a wand,

swinging it up and down with the slightest

relief in the horizontal line of its return.

That’s what it was like she said when she dove

into the burning

of this midnight dream.