Dramatic story poems introduction
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     Writing a series of dramatic poems that function like chapters in a book was the furthest thing from my mind when I began.  I had previously written a poem about the shooting of unarmed starving unemployed workers entitled "July, 1, 1935", and had just finished my poem about citizens of Japanese origin having their property seized and being interred during the second world war entitled "victoria cross". 

     Then a poem about Louis Riel - leader of the Northwest Rebellion - began bouncing round in my head so I decided to delve into some historical material to find inspiration. Being more interested in writing poetry than history my concern is with using words to create emotions. 

     My approach is to dig out the underlying metaphorical structures that guide peoples attitudes and decisions. Then use emotionally oriented words that try and reflect feeling. Naturally any feeling I project is purely from my point of view. My poem thus becomes my emotional view of history blended with but not subservient to recorded historical content. 

     It was when writing the Louis Riel poem that I realized an underlying connection with the two previous poems. All poems dealt with broken trust between people and their government of the day. This broken trust idea  reduced to the understructure metaphor of: absolute obedience: obedience  to a ruling authority. It didn't matter if the ruling authority government or church were right or wrong only obedience mattered. 

     I then began to wonder:  who were the people hounding Louis Riel? The answer to this question lead me to my next poem about Darcy McGee and the people who killed  him. My conclusion that the same group mentality had killed both Darcy McGee and Louis Riel. This conclusion expanded set of dramatic poems that I had begun to consider. 

     I had noticed the ruling authority role that  religion played in the lives of both white-men and Indians . My next thought went towards thinking about how the white-man's religion  (obedience without question) - combined with the white-man's dehumanization of the Indian, resulted in undermining the Indian culture which had it's own system of self worth and honour. Those thoughts resulted in my poem entitled "duck lake 1888".  

     The original intent of Indian treaties was harmony with the white-man. Learn from the white-man grow as trusting friends. This was the underlying  dream of the Indian which I explored in my poem entitled "shaman prophesy" 

     Some people will say "all this happened in the past it has no relevance today".  I needed something more contemporary to show that this arrogance of power is still prevalent today and is not something that exists only in the past. So I added poem that I had previously written and explored a today version of broken trust; entitled "vote me promise keeper" to show the nature of power has not changed:  it still wears the forked tongue that it wore in the past. 

Keith O'Connor 
Ottawa Canada 
2002 Jan 18  

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