Saying the Names Shanty & the CBC Poetry Prize

As some of you know, when I’m not exploring the poetry of the earth, I am working for the words as they arrange themselves in similar patterns, also called poetry. Today, I am proud that my poem “Saying the Names Shanty” has been nominated to stand among 33 others in the long-list for the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize. You can read the full list of poems and their poets here: http://www.cbc.ca/books/literaryprizes/33-writers-make-the-cbc-poetry-prize-longlist-1.4389859. I am proud that my poem and I get to rub shoulders with such a fine group of visions, words and people. What’s more, I am glad that the poem, which began in 2009 with a trip up the Columbia River from Astoria, Oregon, rose out of the series that started this blog at the same time. Here’s the Columbia, as it sweeps through the ancient Sinkiuse homeland at White Bluffs, directly across the river from the Manhattan Project’s plutonium reactors.

That was my journey home from the Coast, that allowed my new poem’s journey across the mountains and back to Canada. The final impetus was written after visiting Yellowstone …

… and Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump …

… and the Blackfoot wind …

… and then sitting on the shore of the Conconully Reservoir in the early morning.

The poem came, in almost its final form. I think that’s the editing crew above. The reception apparatus is below.

The Poem Saying Harold’s Name

The poem begins like this:

It was Al who said it, to stick out the thumb’s knuckle and nail, crook’d,
to say with a gesture where you want to get along to

and see who is going there too, with her hands on the wheel’s leather
and the rubber taking the curves of the Crowsnest,

crossing the line from black tar’s unwinding ribbon
into the riddle of headlights weaving between Similkameen deer and Arcturus.

The Al mentioned is Canadian Poet and elder, Al Purdy, who has left us but whose poems and spirit still live. Here he is, just a month older than I am now.

Poetry Saying Al’s Name

One of Al’s poems, “Say the Names”, that inspired my poem is here: https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/say-the-names-by-al-purdy/article4161335/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

It begins wondrously, like this:

say the names say the names

and listen to yourself

an echo in the mountains

Tulameen Tulameen

say them like your soul

was listening and overhearing

and you dreamed you dreamed

you were a river

and you were a river

It is a beautiful challenge. I accepted it. After all, many of the rivers and names that Al says with such love are my home country in the mountains, including the nmɘlqaytkw (the Similkameen), here:

The nmɘlqaytkw at Nighthawk, looking to c̓up̓áq̓.

You can read another of my love poems for this river here, a prose poem with photos: https://okanaganokanogan.com/2012/04/23/earth-writing/

My poem “Saying the Names Shanty” is part of a book-length manuscript of songs for being at home in the west beyond the West, and especially in the grasslands between the mountains, and of following the road across the mountains and prairies to the east.

The Grass Beyond the Mountains

The View from Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump

To which, with respect and thanks for the syilx people, whose land, whose Nxʷɘlxʷɘltantɘt, I live upon, I add the Okanagan Nation declaration:

“We are the unconquered aboriginal people of this land, our mother; The creator has given us our mother, to enjoy, to manage and to protect; we, the first inhabitants, have lived with our mother from time immemorial; our Okanagan governments have allowed us to share equally in the resources of our mother; we have never given up our rights to our mother, our mother’s resources, our governments and our religion; we will survive and continue to govern our mother and her resources for the good of all for all time.” https://www.syilx.org/about-us/syilx-nation/okanagan-nation-declaration/

To all syilx people, yours are the names. Thank you for keeping them alive and for sharing them. Your act of sharing has given me life, and a chance to sing of love. The woman whose hands are on the wheel in the poem, is the poet Linda Rogers,


…source

who introduced me to Al’s poem “Say the Names” by reading it to me late at night in her kitchen in Victoria, with, if I remember correctly, a whoop of joy. I sure felt one, at any rate. Thanks, Linda. All of us, and the poet Pat Lane…

…whose poem “Similkameen Deer”, which begins with a road sign like this …

…Driving through the Similkameen valley

I watch for deer on the Road.

Miles roll out beneath me….

… probably below the screes and Mount Mazuma Ash at As’nola Mouth, where the waters of the Pasayten Wilderness and the Cascade Range meet between Hedley and Keremeos, began me on this journey four decades ago, have, among others, made this poem together, although the words came to it through me. Friends, poets, brothers, sisters, words and spirits, thank you. This moment is yours, a gift for you for the gifts you’ve given. Thank you, CBC, for the chance to share it.

You can find the CBC’s page on my poem here: http://www.cbc.ca/books/literaryprizes/saying-the-names-shanty-by-harold-rhenisch-1.4371756

Oh, yeah, and this:

Poetry Saying Its Name as Arcturus

Source

Sufic Creativity

As part of my ongoing discussion about how different traditions of creativity lead to different human-earth relationships and, ultimately, different earths, I’d like to introduce you to some ideas I learned while writing my new book of poems, Two Minds.

twominds

That’s Khedr, the Sufic power of unified nature and ethics. Let me demonstrate:

twobucks 

P2190287See that?  Two moments of a continuous world are separately illuminated by the attention of the power of wisdom and by being brought together in one space embody it. This wisdom is not generated by human individuality or personality but by the act of a human stepping into space which is complete and unbounded, creating a division, and allowing wisdom, which is ever-present to reveal itself in a spark of wit, a quick realization, a moment of beauty, an artful spark, or any of its other manifestations. It is there for just a moment, then is gone. The manifestation, however, can be coaxed out again by a second pair of images or thoughts, such as this:

mareofthesun P2200041

Once again, wisdom is present, hovers in the air like light over the desert or a wind swirling dust, and then is gone. Through a series of these dances with the omnipresence of thought, an artful structure is constructed: not of words , but of the moments at which wisdom has inhabited the words and taken on form and shape in a dance with them. It is as if light has entered the beginning of one of these series of meditations or conversations, has trickled down over its ledges, and pools at its base.

Well, in Iceland (above) it can freeze from time to time!

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Khezr, the Hidden Prophet, Trickster Cook of Alexander.

Khezr is one of the afrad, the Unique Ones who recieve illumination directly from God without human mediation; they can initiate seekers who belong to no Order or have no human guide; they rescue lost wanderers and desperate lovers in the hour of need. Here he is:

AlKhidr2

Source.

Take a look at the dragon wings he has instead of oak leaves for hair. With claws, and everything.

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In Sufic tradition, there is no separation between St. George and his dragon: they are one. This one-ness between wildness and civility, that is Khezr. Nature doesn’t have to be killed in this conception. It is a conception of balance. That’s the way of the ghazal. It’s also the way of a man walking.

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Salaam Aleikum!

Okanagan Okanogan: The View From Here

Friends, it’s a happy day. Today, just over 35 months since I began with an image of the grassland (6 hits that day), and a gut feeling that a blog might prove a useful writing process, and 47 months since I had a vision of a new way of living on the earth, I have a manuscript. It’s about this land I love and all its stories and surprising histories, and it’s about the salmon coming home and my coming home with them and getting down to the real work, of remaking the land. I’ll finish it up in the next few days. I have a surprise, too: a second manuscript, which I thought was just going to be a short blog post today. I thought it was going to lead into another three years of writing. To my delight, it is largely written, scattered (and I mean scattered) throughout the posts on this blog. It’s rough, and stretched to encyclopaedic length with photographs, but I can feel its body scattered in space around me. It’s not far off. So, on this 800th post, on this journey of discovery from the Fraser River to the sea, from the Okanagan Valley to the Columbia Plateau, from Palouse Falls to the John Day River and East Iceland to the Mosel, the Rhine and the Rhone, deep into East Germany and back again, following the thread of a story like a salmon following a thread of scent up its birth river, in a sea of over 17,000 images (and another 200,000 in reserve) and about a half million words, it’s with excitement that I can show you a bit of my desktop today while the canning pot burbles on the stove and the scent of peaches fills the house:

working

 

Harold at Work

Cool!

I Will Be Reading @ Pulp Fiction Coffee House in Kelowna on Monday, May 12, 2014

Pulp Fiction Coffee House, Kelowna 

What? Who? Where? Whaaa? Click here. All will be revealed. When? Aha …

7pm. Monday May 12.

What?

I read my stuff. The audience reads their stuff. Perfect. Especially if we talk. We will talk, right? Good, that’s settled.

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Good gawd, bring your camera. Let’s get a better picture. After all, my Facebook picture looks like this:

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And that’s a funeral picture. In a dead man’s suit. Imagine what I look like in Real Live Kelowna. (By the way, I meant the green to reference the Green Man. You know the guy. Before Darwin, he held the fort.

 

 

Here he is putting in yeoman service for anyone leaving the private gallows of the civic chambers of the German city of Görlitz, on the Northern Camino.

greenmanTempted to show  up? I’ll read my poem about Fish Lake. The one with the hee hee na. And the big land claim court case?

Fish Lake.preview

Or, rather, I think I’ll get Coyote to read it for me. What are friends for, right?

pulpdog

 

 

 

I’m working on a manuscript about the Okanagan that lets Coyote have his say. I’ll try to read a bit of it for you. Here’s Pulp Fiction’s teaser…

pulp1Gosh, you like being teased, right? I came back to the Okanagan for a reason. It has to do with putting an end to the American Civil War. Is that enough of a tease?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How about this, then? People like Pulp Fiction!  I like Open Mics. Do come.

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See you there!

 

 

 

 

 

4th Annual Haig-Brown Environmental Lecture

Tomorrow, I’m off to Campbell River on Vancouver Island, to present the 4th Annual Haig-Brown Memorial Lecture in Environmental Writing. I will be arguing that this Icelandic River lies at the heart of Canadian political and environmental traditions, and is a place to situate our government.

p1430251The New Canadian House of Parliament

 Talking with the earth and including it in our social group is not a new idea. It is at the root of English. In fact, it is at the root of being human. If we, the people, reclaim that language, the government will follow. It will take time, but over time, we will speak again. Some of us will even speak like this.

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Harold Thinking Out Loud in East Iceland, April

When I get back, I’ll tell you all about it.