Write It on Your Heart

By (author): Harry Robinson

Write It on Your Heart is a celebration of the late Harry Robinson, one of the great storytellers of the Interior Salish people of North America.

Collected over a ten-year period, the stories selected for this volume tell from a First Nations point of view about the origin of the world; the time of the animal people; the time before the coming of the white man; the stories of power; the prophet cult and its predictions of profound cultural and economic change; and the post-contact world. The collection ends with Robinson’s own version of “Puss in Boots,” true in every psychological detail to the European story, but set in the ranching country of the Similkameen Valley.

This collection is unique in that it chronicles not only the treasure house of a vibrant First Nations culture, but also the sweeping changes which took place in that culture as it began to interact with the new colonists who introduced a foreign language and writing to the mythic world of Coyote, Fox and Owl. As more and more of his listeners, First Nations included, understood only English, Robinson began to tell his old stories in this new language in order to keep them alive. By the time Wendy Wickwire met him in 1977, he had become as skilled a storyteller in English as he had been in his mother tongue. Robinson knew that the profound cultural changes which had taken place in his lifetime would continue and took to heart the matter of preserving the storytelling tradition. With his approval, Wickwire recorded his stories and brought them together in this critically acclaimed collection. Write It on Your Heart stands as a monument to the epic world of Harry Robinson, ensuring its survival in the many generations to come.

AUTHOR

Harry Robinson

Born in 1900 on a potato farm in Oyama in the Okanagan Valley, Harry Robinson grew up in a small village in the Similkameen Valley of south-central B.C. as a member of the Lower Similkameen Band of the Interior Salish people. A rancher for most of his life, Robinson also looked upon himself as one of the last storytellers of his people. In his boyhood, he spent long hours in the company of his grandmother and other elders, who told him numerous stories that would later become central to his life. He attended a local day school when he was thirteen but soon quit because of the twelve-mile travelling distance. Nonetheless, he was determined to learn to read and write, and, at the age of twenty-two, he enlisted the help of a friend, Margaret Holding, in his quest to master these skills. In the early 1970s, after the death of his wife, Robinson began to reflect upon the hundreds of stories that he had learned in childhood. As he came to realize fully the importance of the storytelling tradition in his community, he began telling stories in the Okanagan language and became as skilled in English storytelling by his mid-seventies. Wendy Wickwire met Robinson while working on her doctoral thesis and recognized what, as Thomas King would later suggest, may well be “the most powerful storytelling voice in North America.” She began recording the stories in 1977, with Robinson’s approval, and brought them together in the award-winning collection Write It on Your Heart. Robinson took his role as a storyteller very seriously and worried about the survival of the oral tradition and his stories. “I’m going to disappear”, he told one reporter, “and there’ll be no more telling stories.” He passed away in 1990—shortly after the publication of Write It on Your Heart, the first of three story collections which will ensure the survival of the epic world of Harry Robinson in many generations to come.”

Reviews

“Write It on Your Heart is nothing less than a masterwork in the genre of oral literature. Robinson’s mastery of his craft and his tradition are flawless. Wickwire’s poetic transcriptions are equally ­masterful.”
Journal of American Folklore


“Epic, mesmerizing tales by a great Okanagan storyteller … that lift [one] eerily and movingly, into a different world.”
Toronto Star


“Nowhere have I read a more productive synthesis of the Indian oral tradition … and the written word. A few other books have come close, but only close.”
Vancouver Sun


Awards

There are no awards found for this book.
Excerpts & Samples ×

Write It on Your Heart is a celebration of the late Harry Robinson, one of the great storytellers of the Interior Salish people of North America.

Collected over a ten-year period, the stories selected for this volume tell from a First Nations point of view about the origin of the world; the time of the animal people; the time before the coming of the white man; the stories of power; the prophet cult and its predictions of profound cultural and economic change; and the post-contact world. The collection ends with Robinson’s own version of “Puss in Boots,” true in every psychological detail to the European story, but set in the ranching country of the Similkameen Valley.

This collection is unique in that it chronicles not only the treasure house of a vibrant First Nations culture, but also the sweeping changes which took place in that culture as it began to interact with the new colonists who introduced a foreign language and writing to the mythic world of Coyote, Fox and Owl. As more and more of his listeners, First Nations included, understood only English, Robinson began to tell his old stories in this new language in order to keep them alive. By the time Wendy Wickwire met him in 1977, he had become as skilled a storyteller in English as he had been in his mother tongue. Robinson knew that the profound cultural changes which had taken place in his lifetime would continue and took to heart the matter of preserving the storytelling tradition. With his approval, Wickwire recorded his stories and brought them together in this critically acclaimed collection. Write It on Your Heart stands as a monument to the epic world of Harry Robinson, ensuring its survival in the many generations to come.

Reader Reviews

Details

Dimensions:

320 Pages
9in * 229mm * 6in * 152mm * 1in25mm
510gr
18oz

Published:

February 01, 2004

City of Publication:

Vancouver

Country of Publication:

CA

Publisher:

Talonbooks

ISBN:

9780889225022

9780889228757 – EPUB

9780889228771 – EPUB

9780889228764 – EPUB

Featured In:

All Books

Language:

eng

No author posts found.

Related Blog Posts

There are no posts with this book.