Geomantic Riposte: A Night for the Lady

Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Joanne Arnott defines herself as a Métis/mixed-blood writer and arts activist living in Salish territories, based on an island in the mouth of the Sto:lo River (Richmond, BC). A founding member of Aboriginal Writers Collective West Coast, Joanne has facilitated Unlearning Racism workshops for many years, and continues to apply peer counselling and storytelling strategies in her work in the literary arts. She has published seven books that are important contributions to the literary landscape, with her first poetry collection Wiles of Girlhood winning the Gerald Lampert award.

ABCBookworld had the following to say about A Night for the Lady, her latest poetry collection:

Once again focussed on the "brown feminine," A Night for the Lady is a rich tapestry of poems inspired by Joanne Arnott's personal relations with other writers and her wide-reaching influences from foreign literature. Both playful and mournful, Arnott celebrates the resiliency of the human spirit and her own hard-won dignity as a Métis mother.

At the First Nations University in Regina, Saskatchewan, at an event facilitated by poet and instructor Randy Lundy (a member of the Barren Lands (Cree) First Nation, in northwestern Manitoba), Arnott recently read to many attentive students from this collection, and I felt compelled to share part of my personal favourite, “the poet thugs of Saskatoon”, a bold comic exposition that transcends intertribal feints and really gets at the nib of what the life of a writer can be like when touring on the (short) circuit.

A Night for the Lady by Joanne Arnott (Ronsdale Press, 2013, Page 17)

 

every single person

at the table knows

 

it is time for him to go

before he does

 

he clings to a woman

who shirks him off

 

the poet thugs escort him

to the hotel doors

 

the feminist-lesbians call

leave it to the men

 

our men

will handle it

 

the Dene flies

into a taxi

 

a Cree poet

tugs on the locked door

 

a Cree professor

reflects on his youth

 

and the movie

300

 

we are not Cree

he cries aloud

 

we are Spartans

damnit

  

Geomantic Riposte: Prometheus

 

Beneath these fancy linens we all slash and dash and quake in this

'culture of silence' but that’s just the poets          have you ever put

your life in another space case’s hands        red-crossed a word out

or photoshopped a head onto another person’s dancing body only

to fix the body later when the poster somehow shrank around that

aforementioned head        or ran weeping into the warehouse when

a blurb became a backrub and then what is that?     then a swanky

conference on impoverishment with the cleaning staff in the back-

ground waiting to go home already but Courtney Bates-Hardy will

surely concur it’s more like Prometheus sometimes you gotta leap

out of that shower scene and torch that sucker who’s endangering

the entire crew but mostly because you’ve seen a faint glimmer of

that thing inside of him   {not words}   or sometimes you gotta use

that right to choose and self-terminate that     non-kosher thing in-

side your own pretty innards because it will only take you with it