Read the Provinces: Carol Rose GoldenEagle (Daniels)
January 9, 2020
By definition, the word Hiraeth translates to a feeling of desire to return to a home or a place that you can no longer return to. Saskatchewan-based poet Carol Rose GoldenEagle (Daniels) joins us in this Read the Provinces feature to discuss her collection of the same name (Hiraeth, Inanna Publications) and how essential this writing has been to her in confronting a dark grief that she has carried throughout her life and reconnecting with her First Nations culture.
All Lit Up: Tell us about your poetry collection Hiraeth and how it came to be.
Carol Rose GoldenEagle (Daniels): The name for Hiraeth came about - by chance. I was looking up the spelling of a word on Dictionary.com and hiraeth was the word of the day. (A homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.)
I wrote this collection of poems, because I realized that I had been carrying around a grief and darkness all of my life. Being a child of the 1960’s scoop, I hadn’t realized how much I had hidden bad memories, abuse, name-calling. When a person is a child, we do not know any differently than the reality in which we grow up. However, once I became a mother, I noticed the “slights” that were directed towards my own children. The woman I used to refer to as my mom when I was a kid, actually called them wild Indians one day. It was at that point, I understood how I had internalized a deep hurt, having listened to that type of conversation all of my formative years. I would not allow my children to be subjected to the same verbal abuse, and began to remember, and write. It’s important that my own 3 children understand what happened to me, and too many others, with the scoop-up. I am no longer in contact with that family, where I was raised, although it is important to note that I was very close with my Dad and my Grandma (Dad’s mom - both now deceased). There was never name-calling when Dad was home.
I also needed to write this collection, because somehow, I think I have managed to find my way out of this dark place. I did so by connecting with my own First Nations culture, which is rich, beautiful and strong. It is my hope that all those who feel lost or disconnected, find their way back to our culture and traditions. It is a place of strength.
ALU: It's been argued that physical geography shapes our identity, that there's a connection between our physical place in the world and who we are. As a writer, in what ways does your natural environment inform your writing?
CRGD: There is something magical about the wind in Saskatchewan. Ever since I was a child, I have been listening to the wind. I remember, as a child, standing at the side of a grid road and watching mature wheat swaying in the field. Also, the wide-open space of southern Saskatchewan gave me an appreciation for a wide-open sky. A place for dreamers. Even though my biological roots are in the boreal forest of northern Saskatchewan, I do appreciate the plains.
ALU: Who are some of your favourite Saskatchewan-based writers?
CRGD: Trevor Herriot - Gillian Harding-Russell - Bernadette Wagner - Barb Langhorst - Dave Margoshes - (and even though she now lives in AB) Sharon Buttala
I never fully understood the teachings of Jesus Christ
until I met an Old Woman
four foot ten
reminds me of Yoda
and just as wise
She has never been sentenced to jail
but she has done hard time
beaten to the point of death in Residential School
the nuns did not send her to hospital until the next day
she lay in a coma
for eleven months
But she does not dwell on it
will not empower those early years
fraught with a litany of woe
peppered with hate
a mix of fear
She will not allow it to hinder her growth
the Old Woman who stands here
Too many now rely on her strength
which has become their starting place
of a shared sacred space
because of this Old Woman
accepted the unspeakable pain that arrived
when her young husband passed too soon
It was then two voices showed up
both promising something.
which come in a bottle
and the Spirits
of the Old Voices we hear in the wind
Her husband is gone
their love remains
so she promises
to never drown those memories
but to keep their love alive and powerful
honouring the memory of her husband
by honouring Spirit The Old Ones
smudging with sage sweetgrass cedar
she offers prayers for her children
for all children
and a promise that she will embrace
the rhythm of life
no matter what it may bring
It leads her to the circle
that magic place
peaceful place the church forbade
for no good reason
Old Woman stands with an Eagle feather fan
held high at the honour beat
in a dance honouring her
she has earned the respect
towards her role as an Elder
as she continues to beckon
encourage as many as she can
back to the dance
but new to those who have been disconnected
as she once was
but is no more
It is going on now 3 generations
because she let go of pain
but let it die
remembering instead the love
a heart so large
it caused rebirth
resurrecting with it
the Old Ways
and extending that knowledge to her children
grandchildren great grandchildren all of Creator’s children
they will not suffer the same
wandering in darkness
that was a long time ago
* * *
Carol Rose GoldenEagle (Daniels) is Cree/Dene with roots in Sandy Bay, northern Saskatchewan. She is a published novelist, poet, playwright, visual artist, and musician. She is the author of the award-winning novel Bearskin Diary (2015). A sequel, Narrows of Fear, is forthcoming. She published the novel,
Bone Black (Nightwood Editions) in 2019, and her poetry collection, Hiraeth, a finalist for the 2019 Rasmussen, Rasmussen and Charowsky Indigenous Peoples’ Writing Award, was published by Inanna Publications in 2018. As a visual artist, her work has been exhibited in art galleries across Saskatchewan and Northern Canada. As a musician, a CD of women’s drum songs, in which Carol is featured, was recently nominated for a Prairie Music Award. Before pursuing her art on a full-time basis, Carol worked as a journalist for more than 30 years in television and radio at APTN, CTV, and CBC. She lives in Regina.
* * *
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