Steal My Rage: New Native Voices.
Edited by Joel T. Maki.
Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.
Beyond despairImages used in the preceding stanza - darkness, the Spirit, and connectedness to nature and creation - weave their way throughout many of the poems and short prose in this well-edited collection.
I see the light
given to me at creation
beyond the dark isolation
I see a life within
until it unfolds
The first breath
difficult to take
the first step
to fight the darkness
to live and the eagle flies
encompassing creation in its flight.
from "Healing Begins With Me" by Debbie Danard
Steal My Rage was originally conceived by Na-Me-Res (Native Men's Residence, Toronto) as a "community-based publication, a way of promoting literacy in the Native community and encouraging Native people to write." In response to a call for material, 400 works were submitted by unpublished Native writers. After a difficult selection process, the fiction, poetry, and non-fiction of 34 writers from across Canada was selected: a representative sample of all the submissions.
The book is divided into four sections, each indicative of the writers' unique ways of seeing the world, each offering an appeal for "unity and community ... and the interconnectedness of the cosmos."
The first section, "Where Spirits Roam and Eagles Fly," encompasses traditional spirituality, the Creator's gift of life, the land, betrayed trust, racism and death, death in which ...
"I told the wind to
reach out and touch your spirit
that is why the wind is still blowing"
(from "Storm Star" by Rene Patrick)
Death is also a theme touched upon in poems found in section two, "A Sound in My Soul." But this time death is "The Journey's Begining," in which the request in Judy Bear's poem is ...
"to bury me with moccasined feetOther themes in this section include: transition to a non-Native community, healing, and connections to nature.
pointing to the east,
my head pointing to the west
so that I may see the sun rise
but never see it set..."
Seeing nature and humanity as one is central to section three, "Listen to Your Mother, the Earth." In addition to writings on the importance of language, echoes of past spirits and emotional connectedness, the section includes poet Barbara Day who concludes "To My Creator," with:
"Chi Meegwetch, Great Spirit, for giving me the greatest gift of
all, myself ..."
The concluding section, "Long Time Ago," offers short stories about the Raven, dreams, and traditional values.
Wind blows throughout this book, be it the "Guardian Spirit Winds" of Rena Patrick's poem from which this collection's title is taken; or the winds on which the eagle flies as in a poem by Lone Eagle Le Maigre; or the gentle wind that blows a reader along to a deeper understanding of Native peoples and their culture.
Gina Varty is an actor and poet and librarian at the Audio Visual Educational Library, United Church of Canada, Edmonton.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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