KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Last night I was much enjoying The Blind Man’s Eyes, a 2015 collection of Rita Joe’s poetry when it occurred to me that this wonderful Mikmaw poet would make a great topic for an installment of our weekend video series.
Well, it’s remarkable how little video footage of Mi’kmaw poet Rita Joe is to be found on line. I am not sure why that is.
But two videos, short fragments really, that I did find are very special. In the first video Rita Joe, in the last interview before her death, talks about her poetry.
I am the Indian and the burden lies yet with me
“That means, if we’re going to write anything, if we’re going to write beautiful stuff about native culture, it has to be us. We have to do that.”
The video starts with a separate conversation with Mi’kmaw elder and basket maker Caroline Gould, who wishes children were still taught the fine art of basket making.
These two interviews were conducted by documentary maker and traditional/contemporary singer George Paul.
In the second video fragment Rita Joe speaks to a 1992 Halifax audience about leaving the Shubenacadie Residential School behind for good. Rita Joe would have been 16 years old at that time.
To me this memory is as powerful as any of Rita Joe’s poems.
Photo of basket made by Caroline Gould. From Ravenview Blog, Basket making with Ursula Johnson.
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