Questions and Remedies

ANCESTORS:

Questions and Remedies

ancestors tell us how to continue

inside a world of lovers long forgotten

inside a world of how to be 

remembered on the page,

in books, in our memory and taste buds 

ancestors haunt us through our bone marrow 

ancestors whisper all that you know 

when I am asleep, murmur answers 

from the universe, like my lover 

does in movie theatres, broadcast beyond 

this world with stories that fuel our cells

ancestors defend our love poems, back to us 

ancestors we have queries about your whereabouts

a flash on a street corner, blinds us

a lime green coat, crosses the street, a double take 

a grey-haired woman turns slightly to reveal a profile

we linger at the street corner, tear-filled 

stop in the middle of the road, chin wobble 

we reach out, arms at the ready

a bubble up quick an ugly cry

ancestors show us our own heart 

-Sharanpal Ruprai 

DESCENDANTS:

Remember, that you dear poet, come from a long line of artists. Read, absorb, read, research the poets that have come before you. You are not alone. Honour our artist ancestors by sharing their work with others; share a piece of poetry by someone who has influenced your own work. Grow our ancestor’s readership and it will ground your own practice. 

Sharron Proulx-Turner, a well-known two-spirit Metis poet and she was a dear friend; passed away a few years ago. Our conversations over the years led to sparks of love, ideas and fuelled my second collection of poetry, Pressure Cooker Love Bomb. Sharron reminded me that food and recipes were a vital aspect of love and life. When Sharron was in hospice, I promised her that I would spread the word about her work and make her famous! She, of course, laughed and said, “you, do that!” and we never had a chance to talk about writing again. 

Descendants, when I am asked to read at literary events, I share a poem (or two) from The Trees are still Bending South, by Sharron Proulx-Turner and explain our connection and how she includes her family recipes as poems; this is how we will build a network of generations of ancestors that will support and light the way. I ask you, to do the same. 

From The Trees are still Bending South by Sharron Proulx-Turner

two-spirit love poem, three

in some cultures

when a woman dreams

she’s sun’s lover

she becomes a sundancer

I’ve had no such 

dreams of sun 

but dreams of you 

as we walk 

the blue mountains 

winter’s sun 

warming the sides 

of our faces 

the backs of our necks 

you and me opening 

pathways 

in the snow 

our future 

as new to us now 

as alive and certain 

as the distant 

morning star 

welcoming sun 

as she rises 

her face opened 

in our eyes 

Sharanpal Ruprai is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Winnipeg. Sharanpal Ruprai’s début poetry collection, Seva, was a finalist for the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry by the Alberta Literary Awards. Her second collection, Pressure Cooker Love Bomb, is a finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Awards for Lesbian Poetry.Her poetry is featured in a number of anthologies: GUSH: Menstrual Manifestos for Our Time, The Calgary RenaissanceRed Silk: An Anthology of South Asian Canadian Women Poets, and Exposed. Sharanpal Ruprai is also a poetry editor for Contemporary Verse 2: The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing (CV2). 

Sharanpal Ruprai is the 2019-2020 Canadian Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calgary working on a collection of short stories called, Blue Kara.

Sharanpal is currently

working on a collection of short stories called, Blue Kara and I am writing a play! I am so excited that my second poetry book, Pressure Cooker Love Bomb, is a finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Awards! So, I am reading all the other Lambda Literary Award finalists listed here:  https://www.lambdaliterary.org/awards/current-finalists/. And being inspired by all the new fresh story lines, language, and visuals that these narratives bring to the mind!Attachments area

Show Up.

Before me…

 

Where’s home? Where’s peace of mind?  Who will be there when I arrive?

How do you revisit a dream you lost in the midst of surviving a bad scene?

What’s the trick to living in harmony with those who have harmed me?

Why do so many women I know harbour so much self-hate?

For my soular-sister who wonders: When last did freedom say your name?

 

Beyond/After me…

In order to heal you must acknowledge what hurts. The words, gestures, and rhymes for these signs are perhaps foreign at first. But I think when you are finally able to call it out, then you can change its hold on you. There’s a bona fide beauty in moving, stepping out and splitting off from a hiding place. It is not unlike birth. Simply, you ask to be found when you search.

Trust that what is meant for you is relying on you to show up. Show up.

 

 

Britta B. is a spoken word poet and arts educator. Her works have been featured on TEDx, The Walrus Talks, CBC Radio’s Day 6, Ask Her: Talks presented by The Stephen Lewis Foundation, Toronto Star’s The Kit: Compact Magazine and the Art Gallery of Ontario. In 2017, Britta was an artist-in-residence for the spoken word program at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Britta is currently a member of the Toronto Arts Council Leaders Lab.

As an arts educator, Britta develops curriculum, facilitates artist-training seminars, poetry workshops and after-school programs in partnership with organizations like UNITY Charity, Leave Out Violence (Ontario) and various school boards across Ontario. Britta is a former youth mentor for The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery and junior artist mentor for the Art Gallery of York University.

When not performing or teaching, Britta emcees break-dance battles, hip-hop jams and community appreciation events.

Learn more about Britta here. 

Social Media: @missbrittab

Photo credit: Gilad Cohen