Say the Names...

Al Purdy wrote a wonderful poem called "Say the names say the names" which celebrates the names of Canadian rivers - Tulameen, Kleena Kleene, Similkameen, Nahanni, Kluane and on and on in a celebratory song.

Enbridge is planning to build a dual pipeline that will carry bitumen and condensate across hundreds of waterways between Edmonton and Kitimat. Some of these waterways are rivers like the Parsnip (or what's left of it), the Nechako, the Morice and others are smaller creeks whose names are often known only to the folks who live along their banks or who fish in their shadows or who bend to wash or drink as they cross paths.

I want to collect the names of these rivers and creeks, to collect your stories, your poems, your songs so we can collectively give voice to the land living under the line Enbridge plans to draw.

People have also sent me copies of their presentations to the community oral presentations. If you'd like to add your voice, email me ( your stories and I'll post them for you. The copyright remains with you.

All the best.
Sheila Peters

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ah, those beautiful names...

Thanks to Norma Kerby for her poem - a welcome response to the recent reports
of the Harper government's extensive spying on anti-oilsands groups. It's from a Terrace Art Gallery poetry anthology, The Rivers Speak, due to be launched this Friday, Nov. 22. It is a collaboration of eight visual artists and 22 poets, edited by Joan Conway and Katherine Bell. The book is being used to raise funding for the Terrace Art Gallery.

Lists of lovers

There are lists of lovers    river lovers    dangerous people
who murmur  in foreign tongues
Kitimat   Zymoetz   Kitsumkalum

They stand in front of hearings   speak to newspapers     sighing for
lovers they can never own
Babine   Bulkley   Kwinageese   Bear

Emotional people      careless dreamers of river waters rushing free
Exstew   Kasiks    Kispiox   Clore

Greedy people      they think that lovers are forever
but lovers only pass in the night
Kinskush   Kitsault   Kwinamuck   Dak

We have lists         lists of lovers     river lovers
writers of poems to angry waters
Stikine  Skeena  Spatsizi  Nass

good citizens come and go
they know that rivers    cold northern rivers   are not forever
money can buy warm embraces in
tropical seas
hotel pools gentle and soothing
whispering comforts
whispering   forget   forget   forget

But these lovers   these river lovers  northern river lovers  they cry out   they
will not be quiet   they shout  slogans   meet in rallies
never confess that rivers are lovers for moments not lifetimes

Lists of lovers   river lovers    Jim and Wade and Cheryl and Shannon       
Walter   Dennis   even Ali

We have their names.  We watch.  We listen.

Lists of lovers     who speak of rivers    northern rivers

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