Lance Henson

7th November, 2006

Meeting with Cheyenne/Tsistsistas poet Lance Henson  


Dear Girls,

We have had the opportunity of meeting a great Native-Indian poet, Lance Henson.  I would be very grateful if you could possibly share the poems we wrote during the workshop.  I will share with you mine, just to show you the courage of trusting those who read the “words flowing out of our souls”.  It is difficult for a teacher to expose her deep feelings with her students, to share part of her life with somebody she teaches to, but as Lance pointed out, writing poetry is an act of courage.  Along with your poems I want you to give me some feedback about the workshop. 

  1. How did you feel during the conference? 
  2. What did you like about it?  Why? Mention an anecdote if possible.
  3. What did you not like?  Why? Mention an anecdote.
  4. Is there anything that you expected from the meeting with Lance Henson that was not met?


Please, do find the time to answer these questions.


Herewith below, you will find some observations by Lance and my poems.  Some teachers of English might find this part interesting, so for their own sake I am writing down Lance’s instructions.  Unfortunately I do not have the poems he read, I did not find it correct to record them.  I will write to him, though, so should he be willing to share them with us, I will post them for our “collective” pleasure and “spiritual uplifting.”


I quote from Lance:

“We are living in a time that questions our morality, ethics, a time when the good within the human beings is difficult to see.  We have to find humanity within the human heart.  Disciplines such poetry and arts in general can give solace and support you as a spiritual human being.”

“Poetry is an ancient discipline, it derives from the very first speakers.  Today the poet is ostracized, imprisoned.  What is it that makes people afraid of poets?  What compels someone who writes? What pushes deep inside the formative energy to funnel through the brain the message of the heart?  It’s a way of giving credence to the forces which say no to evil, greed.  I experience the world and then I write what I’ve experienced.”

“If the soul could speak it’d sing poetry.  Truth has a hard edge today: millions of dollars are made from selling guns, there are thousands of children soldiers, human slavery still exists.”

“Poetry is the world as it is and the world as it should be.”

“Poetry is also a meditative place.  It is the place I can go when nobody listens.”

“Keep a journal and always questions authority.”

“You are gentle souls, you’re spiritual beings on a human journey.”


na shi neh

no tum

num haisto

ish i tsis iss i ni is

ish i tsis a kit a es


maiyun asts


nah tsistsistas

nah tsistsistas


                                   mahago domiutz



I am standing here

where the cold wind comes from

where the cold wind goes

where the sun comes up

where the sun goes down


spiritual powers listen to me


I am a human being

I am a human being


                                   Lance Henson

                                   Dog Soldier





1. Collect any words you hear from the poems I’m going to read. (Lance read three poems)

Each word represents a key, they come out of your human experience in a different way.  They unlock memories, dreams.  Use them in a simple poem.  Start your first poem with “In this small wind”.

This is my first poem.


In this small wind


In this small wind

at dawn

a handful of                  hope

wings of a BUTTERFLY        




past the ashes

of a dead angel


autumn memories within me


Now you stand up and you swap poems. 


2. Now you create two images per line to create an effective poem. An image is a picture in your mind.  Each picture is an example, whether conscious or unconscious.  That’s how powerful you are!

Use your own imagery from your living and the collected words of the poems I read.  In the morning you come from sleep, a strange world, and you look at yourself in the mirror.  Mirror don’t lie.  What would the mirror show if we stepped inside it?  Write 10 lines.

This is my second poem.




Stretched out arms

embracing the whole world

warmth oozes.


They turn into loose wings

lifting towards a lit




looking for you

storming emotions

waking within me.


3. Think of somebody you love, feel close to in a tangible way.  It has to be a relative, not a friend, somebody of your blood.  Don’t name the person, just write the relationship in the title.  Write five metaphors.  Sign and date this poem.  Give it to the person you wrote it for on a special occasion.  If the person is dead keep it with you.

This is my third and most heartfelt poem.


My brother’s poem


My brother’s poem is running through a dark haunted wood

My brother’s poem is wolves howling at the spirits of his ancestors

My brother’s poem is a well spilling out filthy water to renovate itself

My brother’s poem is the shuffling of heavy footsteps on a blanket of cracking leaves

My brother’s poem is the anguishing cry of a NEW rebirth.


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48 Responses to Lance Henson

  1. canda98 says:

    Dear Paola,

    Thanks for quoting directly from Lance Henson’s words. You are also mentioning a problem that most classmates of yours have underlined, that is Lance Henson’s use of the same activities and poems. Now it is clear to me what your “unknown” classmate meant. You have provided me with some clear examples and you have clarified where the redundancy of the lecture lay. I was not present at the lecture you are referring to, I was present last year, but not two years ago, so I did not notice the repetition of the same activities. One justification for this replica, is that some of the other participants (the university students) had not been exposed to those poems before and that Lance did not know you had already done those activities. I am sorry this might have caused some kind of disappointment or boredomom. Yet, I think it was an involving experience nonetheless. Thanks for having clarified things for me.

  2. canda98 says:

    Dear N.15 (How awful it is to write to a number, please do use your nickname next time, at least it gives me the idea of writing to a person, not to a number!), I am happy you expressed your feelings so openly. I think it is not always easy to work with different personalities at the same time. You speak/write of impositions, and I am sorry you felt things were imposed upon you, I am sorry to read you experience the workshop as a sort of “violence” to you. This reinforces the idea we all perceive things differently. I did not experience the kind of “abuse” you are expressing and I did not feel under pressure or not at ease at all. I can imagine it must have been terrible, because I experienced feeling out of place and it is not a pleasant feeling. What I cannot understand is what made you feel like that. I did not perceive Lance Henson’s words as “dogmas”, words imposed upon us or told as THE TRUTH. However, it goes without saying that what we state, support and fight for represents the truth for us. We claim what we believe in and I do not think that this is an imposition. It would be if I expressed a different opionion and this was not respected as such. I would love to understand what made you feel so badly, so perhaps we should try to raise this issue in class.

  3. canda98 says:

    Dear giò,

    you are the first one who mentioned something about the themes touched on by Lance. Thank you for this feedback. As to the poems, well, Lance had been asked to do a creative writing workshop. He had been asked to make you write some poems to make you see that we can all unlock our imagination and open our hearts in a poetic way. As I wrote before, in a lecture it is impossible to satisfy everybody’s needs, expectations, desires. We are all different and consequently we all ask for different things. Do remember that we were at university and we were guests there, the lecture was not meant for us only. We were there to share something planned for the university students. As to Lance’s tone of voice, you are among other students who mentioned the same thing. I am a little bit puzzled, since it was not the first time you had listened to him and I had already told you in class that he speaks in a whisper. Let’s remember, as I have already written, that we cannot possibly “read the rest of the world” according to our parameters. We, Italians, tend to shout and speak in a loud pitch of voice. We tend to be aggressive and quite straightforward and Lance accepts this, but he cannot be what he is not (and I would love to add, thanks goodness!). We cannot impose upon the others what/who we are and expecting a different attitude, to me, is a sort of “violence”. The truth, in my opinion, is that we are not used to soft sounds any longer and we find those who speak in a low tone of voice boring. Do we tend to pay attention more to the voice than to the contents “carried” by that voice? Your observation makes me think. Last year Anita Desai (Indian writer) came to Pordenone and my students met her. They loved her novels, her speech, but they didn’t like her voice. She spoke in a whisper too!

  4. canda98 says:

    Dear Smarty,

    I love Lance’s quote on what poetry is too. It is so effective and it is dense in meaning. As to the part concerning the production of poems, well, I need to discuss it in class with all of you. It seems that most of you do not feel like sharing your poems with people you do not know (which is fine), but nobody has managed to explain why (or at least I have not been able to understand “the way”). I cannot understand what scares students when they are asked to share what came from their interiority with other people who underwent the same process. So I would really love to discuss about this in class. Thanks for your observations, they made me want to see into your skepticism. Your comments invite me to consider things that are part of generation, but not of mine.

  5. canda98 says:

    #38 21 Novembre 2006 – 10:38

    During the conference, most of the time I felt interested, but I didn’t like too much the second part, when we had to write poems; I didn’t like this part because I think poems should be written when one feels like writing them, not when somebody else asks you to.

    I liked the “theoretical part”, because Lance did not say banal things, he shared his deep feelings and ideals, which I agreed most of the time. For example he spoke about the society we have nowadays, and in my opinion he said right things: we have to try to get to know the hearts of the people we meet, according to me even because our minds are influenced by society.

    In conclusion, I would have prefered if the conference had not included the writing part, and if Lance had added more to the first part. Anyway I have been very pleased to listen to him.


    Dear Jess,

    I had to cut and paste your comment because you wrote it in the wrong section (you wrote it under “Another London Day”. It was just mere luck that I looked for other possible comments in the other sections.

    To reply to your comment, well I am happy to read you appreciated the first part of the conference, though you did not like the idea of writing poems. As to this problem, please read the other replies of mine, so that you can see what I wrote to the other classmates of yorus who rose the same objection. Cheers.

  6. lacimetta says:

    I wish I could have come to Lance’s workshop… should it have been the exact replica of the on eI attended some 3 (?) years ago I would have loved evry sec. of it anyway, the whispered waves of his words, the lost and sharp sight of his eyes… but some students I guess had had enough. Repetita non juvant sometimes!!! As regards this blog, I think you are doing a great job. Brilliant! It oozes ideas, communication and your effort to answer to EACH ONE INDIVIDUALLY (considering the little time a teacher who teaches 6 classes, 140 students?) is just amazing. You deserve… a big hug!!!! I’m glad I was passing by. It’s thanks to Lance’s seminar that I started to share my poems and overcame my discretion and shyness. Well I must go. Nite, nite.

    I’ve started postting again.


  7. anonimo says:

    I have to say I really liked the meeting! I really enjoyed it! Lance Hanson is one of my favorite poets now. I do not agree with some of my schoolmates. I didn’t find him boring at all. Plus I was in the meeting that took place in Pordenone too and he didn’t exactly say the same things! Actually I liked everything of the meeting. I liked the fact that he spoke in a very low tone of voice, because it seemed like he was talking to me personally, like he was talking to my soul and I liked that. Actually there were a lot of people in the room but I felt like I was the only one because everything he spoke about, involved me a lot. I like the fact that he read some of his poems in his native tongue because a translated poem has not the same value and the same musicality that the original one has. Even if I don’t speak Tsistsistas’ language I really appreciate them.

    Another aspect that I want to highlight is that Lance Hanson did not force us to read our poems instead he wanted to involve us and make us feel the protagonists of the meeting. I think he wanted us to share our opinion with each other so that the meeting could turn into a conversation. I would have read my poems with pleasure if I had finished them! It would have not been a problem for me to read them out loud in front of other people but unfortunately I’m too slow and I need more time to write a poem!

    Anyways I liked everything, I know that you might find boring what I’m saying because I‘m only talking about positive things but at least I don’t think I have to look for negative aspects if I haven’t found any!

    Ps. I promise I will post some of my poems as soon as I find them!


  8. canda98 says:

    Dear Laura,

    First of all thanks for your nice support. It is really meaningful for me. From colleague to collegue, “”we speak the same language” and so … I do not think I need to add anything else. We are driven by the same passion and we procede headlong regardless of all the difficulties we may encounter on our way. I think that the reciprocal support we can give each other will make us put up with the difficulties implicit in our profession more easily. Thanks. With admiration. Your colleague Cristiana

  9. canda98 says:

    Dear Izzy,

    Thanks for sharing your observations with me. I would never ever dare say that some of my students’ comments are boring. You should know that, since you have had me as a teacher for almost two years. Your thoughts come to my rescue, since I really think that sometimes students tend to write comments without weighing them or understanding that giving feedback is extremely important (be it positive or negative, it does not matter) and as such it should be written with intellectual honesty. By this I mean that writing a feedback is not easy, you need to think deeply about what you heard or read, then you have to state clearly what you liked or disliked. If there are negative points to highlight you need to put the reader in the position of understanding what did not work for you, so this implies that your observations should be supported by clear examples. Having the privilege of giving feedback (and this will happen to you at university) does not imply that you can abuse this “precious” right, which, by the way, was obtained with great difficulty by those who came before you. So to cut a long story short, I want to thank you for your feedback, because it made me feel less of an alien. Most of all I thank you for the courage you are showing in objecting to your classmates’ opinions. See you in class, even if I do not know who you are!!!!

  10. anonimo says:

    In this small wind

    I dream the shadow

    of an angel, it’s autumn.

    I see a butterfly

    behind a window

    and the life goes on.

    The moon, the stars, the silence.


    I see

    a person

    inside the mirror,

    she looks at me

    and I see

    all my life.

    I see

    a dream, an amazing passion:

    it vanishes, it crumbles

    and I can’t

    save it.

    It wasn’t my fault.

    It was smashed into smithereens

    and I can only

    keep the shards

    of the mirror, of my dream.


    It is a star in the sky

    a shadow in my memories

    ashes on the earth

    hope in my heart

    an angel in my life.

    These are my poems, Paola

  11. canda98 says:

    Dear Paola,

    You left me speechless. Your poems are really beautiful and the way you wrote them is just amazing. You are a keen writer and if I were you I would keep on writing poems. I really thank you for sharing them withe me/us and I am happy that other people will be lulled by the sweetness of your words and struck by the depth of your lines. Very good indeed, my little poetess!

  12. anonimo says:


    It’s night

    a dead angel

    is crying spreading his wings.

    Somebody is calling him

    but the angel

    can see nobody

    because he is blind.

    He can see only a butterfly

    flying through the storm.


    He is innocent like a baby.

    In his eyes you can see the angry for the passed life.

    He is a flower

    that is still growing up.

    He is the most glittering star

    in a dark sky.

    These are my poems, Fedry.

  13. anonimo says:

    Before all else, good evening. I apologise for my absence on the blog. I try to make up today for the lost time. I appreciated the meeting with Lance Hanson because he tried to teach us the importance to stop, sometimes, our run and look at what we really are. it should be the most easy thing to do but, maybe, we are not able to speak with our own anymore. is the poetry the answer? it could be: playing with words, I have notice, is a thing I like and that makes me reflect.

    Now I’m going to speak about what I didn’t like: I was dismayed about that sort of “forced enlistment” to encourage people speaking! I passed from an inspired creating phase to another hateful one, in which I prayed that that woman passed beyond! it was a private thing! But, of course….I forget the divinity called “participation”! who cares about my dignity if there is it in sight?

    Well, perchance I don’t attend enough, but I can still write and I love doing it, so…that is my poems!



    I am surrounded

    By countless





    I ask in a whisper:

    What cloth for my soul

    Do I have to wear

    This morning?

    My grandmother’s poem

    My grandmother’s poem is brave

    Like the hard workers

    My grandmother poem’s is strangely coloured

    Like a foreign landscape

    My grandmother’s poem is difficult

    Like the paprika on the nostrils

    My grandmother’s poem is noisy

    Like that set up table at midday

    My grandmother’s poem is quicker than others

    Like a life unfairly gone!

  14. canda98 says:

    Dear Fedry,

    I like the image of a butterfly surviving a storm. It seems that butterflies are so delicate and weak, that they cannot possibly withstand the hardships of life, but in your poem something unexpected manages to do incredible things!

    I was wondering what kind of anger a child can bear inside. I like this sentence of yours, yet I need to reflect upon him. Is the burden you are mentioning the burden of living? the burden of our ancestors?

  15. canda98 says:

    Dear Tizzy,

    Thanks for finding the time to upgrade your feedback. As to the mixed feelings you reveal to have as to the conference, I need to refer back to all the replies I wrote to your classmates, since, some of your perplexities are shared by some of your classmates. I sense that part of your generation does not like being asked to do things. Perhaps you are more used to doing the things you want to. So whenever somebody asks you do share things in a direct way, you perceive it as blunt and somehow abusive. You do not feel respected in your privacy, and in the case of the conference, this privacy was given by the magic creation of poems. Well, I DO understand your stance, but I also understand the position of a professor, who needs to make sure that you show the outcome of a “poetic experiment”. If you had been asked to read your poems without feeling the pressure of an adult imposing it upon you, would you have read them? I doubt it. However, do not misunderstand this reply of mine. I think that things should always be looked from different sides in order to understand them. My reply is only meant to invite you to step out of your “centrality” and take into consideration other reasons, realities, in other words there is “your truth”, but also “somebody else’s truth” to be catered for! Hope I have been clear enough in what I wanted to say.

    As to your pomes, I like “Mirror”, it is rich in short words, but of great effect. What cloth is your soul wearing today? (a beautiful image, indeed)

    The poem dedicated to your grandmother is really so full of great affection. I like the effect you managed to create by using different senses.

  16. anonimo says:

    I think is the burden of the people who surround us, the family, the society. They want that we see and do only what they deem correct. I thin k that they are like chains, and a butterfly can express the idea of freedom. Everybody is preoccupied about your school state or your carrer. I’m not a slave the only thing that i want is fly in the sky of life,because i don’t mant to become blind. Fedry

  17. anonimo says:

    Dear prof,

    thank you for your advice. I do apricciate that! I’m glad to hear that my thoughts come to your rescue lol…it’s nice for a me knowing that my teacher apricciate my work! And I like this blog because here I can express myself without worring about a mark! 😛

    Anyways I know that giving feedback is extremly important (not easy though) but that’s something I learned from you…so thanks!

    ps. I know you would never dare to say that some of your students comments are boring…I was addressing anyone who might read my comment! My bad I would have explained it better!

    so yea see you in class

    bye bye


  18. canda98 says:

    Dear Fedry,

    You won’t ever become “blind” if you realize that there are external forces that oppress us somehow and that limit our free will. They want to mould us, make us become all the same. Standardization seems to be the key word in our consumeristic and global society. Clones can be controlled, they can be easily managed. So I do understand what you mean. Yet, when we claim for our freedom we need to understand that our freedom can limit somebody else’s. So, this implies that, perhaps, sooner or later we all need to limit it somehow. Do you agree?

  19. canda98 says:

    Dear Izzy,

    I appreciate the fact that you find the blog useful. Indeed, it is a very powerful means of communication and it can really help you overcome your writer’s block. I am also happy to read that you have come to appreciate the relevance of writing a feedback. You see, you go back to the blog to read my comments (feedback) and you feel happy with me writing to you. This happens to a teacher as well. Teachers find it very useful (unless they are damn stupid!) to read their students’ feedback. This way they can see whether an activity worked or not and they can improve their teaching techniques or strategies. Without you I would not be able to understand whether I am able to convey what I know, whether I am able to share the passion I have for literature, whether I am successful in “passing down” to you a language I adore and I am still learning.

    One thing I need you to clarify: what you you me by “My bad I would have explained it better”?

    Bye for now and see you in class.

    Cheers and take care sweetheart, whoever you are.

  20. anonimo says:

    Hi, yes I’m agree with you, our freedom maybe can be the prison of somebody else. I don’t know how to explain, is the same situation of Winston Smith he can only listen the voice that came from the telescreen. He tries to shut it off but that voice continues to speak.

    I think poetry is a good way if you want to express your discomfiorts, because you can use a few words to tell a lot of things. Thanks for your reply is important for a young girl or a young boy that somebody listen them without any judgement or without knowing who they are. Bye see you soon in class

  21. canda98 says:

    Dear Izzy,

    You know that in class you can express your opinions freely. It seems that your nickname protects you from your classmates more than from me! Do not be afraid of judgements, try to express yourself in class as well. This blog is useful, you can practise your writing, take your time when you want to make a point, etc. Yet, I think, that “coming to the front” in class as well, will certainly help you overcome your blocks. Be proud of yourself, you did and are doing a wonderful job. I am happy to read enthusiasm in between your lines. Even after the project you can keep writing your considerations and I will keep replying to you!


    Your teacher of English

  22. anonimo says:

    Hi. I’m so sorry because i forgot to write my nickname last time. I’m not Izzy, she is my bestfriend, I’m Fedry. What you said in your reply is correct. Is evident that i’m at one’s leasure in class. Everybody wants to prevail over the others. Everyday is a competition, there isn’t solidarity. I’m not angry for this because i have a lot of friends

    in my life but you can understand that this situation is troublesome. I’m not pessimist, partly i’m happy because from last year a lot of things are changed, so i’m still hope that they are going on.


  23. anonimo says:

    der Prof,

    I wanted to say that “It was my fault I should have explained myself in a better way”

    Finally I found two of the poems that I wrote during the meeting with Lance Henson. Here they are.

    My nephew’s poem

    My nephew’s poem is juicy like a strawberry

    My nephew’s poem is warmer than the sunshine in summertime

    My nephew’s poem is sweet like candies

    My nephew’s poem is the rain that falls in spring and makes everything renew

    My nephew’s poem is a smile you will always want to see!


    Looking in the mirror

    I can see myself

    That is kind of weird she looks just like me

    Same hair, same eyes, and same smile she looks just like me!

    She looks like me but she is not me

    She doesn’t have my soul, she doesn’t feel pain she doesn’t feel joy

    Every person has one and only soul that makes him/her special,

    She looks like me but she is not me!

    So people don’t think you know me just because you see my physical appearance,

    Get to know me I’m not an image reflected in the mirror

    I am a human being that has feelings!

  24. anonimo says:

    ohh yea I forgot my nickname…this is izzy

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