Poets Resist: Louise Bernice Halfe
Our NPM series Poets Resist begins with multiple award-winning poet Louise Bernice Halfe. In her very personal poetry collection, Burning in this Midnight Dream (Coteau Books) 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. Read on for an excerpt from the book and a short interview with the author.See more details below
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 topics: colonialism and violence, homophobia and transphobia, environmental destruction, and/or the !@#$% patriarchy.
In her very personal poetry collection, Burning in this Midnight Dream 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. Read on for an excerpt from the book and a short interview with the author.
ALU: What are some books that inspired or informed Burning in this Midnight Dream?
LBH: Burning In This Midnight Dream is rooted in lived experience but also influenced by the Truth and Reconciliation process. One book whose story of residential school that contributed to my thoughts was Up Ghost River: A Chief’s Journey Through the Turbulent Waters of Native History by Edmund Metatwabin.
ALU: If you were protesting colonialism, what would your protest sign read?
LBH: We are Still HERE.
ALU: Why did you write this collection?
LBH: I wanted the truth to be told. There is no reconciliation without truth. People need to know the personal, family, and community impact of residential schools. It went far beyond the government program. I wanted to tear away the masks of the “good intentions” of the churches and government. I also wanted to expose the pedophilia of the churches.
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.
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Louise Bernice Halfe whose Cree name is Sky Dancer was born on the Saddle Lake Reserve in Two Hills, Alberta in 1953. She has published several books, including Blue Marrow, which was a finalist for both the Governor General's Award for Poetry and the Pat Lowther Award, and for the 1998 Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award and the Saskatchewan Poetry Award. She lives outside of Saskatoon.
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Don't forget we're giving away a set of resistance buttons and a patch FOR FREE all April long with the purchase of any of the books we feature. And if you want to stand in resistance with us, check out our poetry bot!
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