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subservient to recorded historical content.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.
2002 Jan 18