Saturday, November 6, 2010

Vanhemmat: Those Older Than You

It's dark outside my window, completely black. I just felt like a poem today; must be the influence of Kekri calling out to my soul, telling me to start gathering up word magic as winter is coming. So I am sharing with you a "postcard" poem I wrote about this time a few years ago. It's a postcard poem not because it gets sent out in the mail but because it fits onto a postcard sized blank card. Above, you can see the collection of postcard poems I took with me once when I went out to read poetry around town.
Part of the Random Acts of Poetry (RAP) crew I joined one October: Dave, Duncan and Rene on the steps of Hillcrest High School. I'm at the bottom of the steps, behind the camera. We wear these orange worker's overalls because we are the word construction crew.

Over the last five years when I roamed the streets of Thunder Bay in early October with a Random Acts of Poetry crew, I found that it was more effective to have short poems as you never knew who your audience would be, so I worked on crafting shorter poems. I also found out that it was more comfortable to hold a stiff small card in your hand than an 8"x11" paper. I had used regular paper the first year but didn't like the sloppy ruffling and shuffling through papers; it made you nervous; you could lose your words, or just get confused. Short and sweet worked the best.
Once, the RAP crew I joined went to a seniors' residence. We have read to many different audiences, including at public libraries, coffee shops, on a high school stage, in university classes, at a health center, a dog park, in front of the Hoito, random stops on the street, the Northern Women's Bookstore, the Farmer's Market, and Lakehead University Radio.

I liked the postcard poem format also because if it was windy on the day we went out, and we had outdoor stops, well, it could be hard to find your words on a rattling piece of paper that was threatening to blow away. So, I discovered this postcard method. I bought a pack of blank postcard sheets at a local stationary shop, wrote a poem on one side and decorated the back of the card with random cut-outs from magazines and scraps of left-over paper I collect in a shoebox.

I am also challenging myself to use less words to say something. Maybe this is good for winter. Short and sweet -- but you won't find me Tweeting.
image from Suomalaisia Kansansatuja (Finnish Folktales). 1981. This picture by Matti Waren illustrates the story "Utelias akka," which translates to "The Curious/Nosy Old Woman." I found this book of stories at a rummage sale at the Finlandia Club.

Vanhemmat. Those Older Than You.

The wind bending tall grasses
brings memories of an old woman,
her earthy smell precedes her.

Those who have lost their amulets
cannot hear her footsteps
nor see her crazed dance.

An old man follows, his beard
gnarled like the wayward fur
of a pukki, a goat gone the wrong way.

Although the people busy themselves
buying rooms and closets full of stuff
there is hope that one day, they too
will greet Grandmother and Grandfather

Muori ja Faari
Akka ja Ukko
Eukko ja Mies
Mummo ja Pappa
Emȁntȁ a ja Isȁntȁ
Ȁiti ja Isȁ

The vanha pari/old pair
part of you.

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