7th November, 2006
Meeting with Cheyenne/Tsistsistas poet Lance Henson
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.
- How did you feel during the conference?
- What did you like about it? Why? Mention an anecdote if possible.
- What did you not like? Why? Mention an anecdote.
- 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
ish i tsis iss i ni is
ish i tsis a kit a es
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
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
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
They turn into loose wings
lifting towards a lit
looking for you
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.