We all have a noise in our mind at some point. That thing we are thinking about, contemplating, frustrated over. It buzzes in your ear and on your brain. Rudyard Fearon’sNoise in my Mind is a collection of the thoughts that have the Jamaican poet up at night writing after a lot of thinking. In his minimalist style the talented scribe says a lot with very few words.
Working at a library by day Fearon puts pen to pad at night. He stays at work after his shift ends to read, write, re-write, and better himself at his chosen craft. And you can see it in his short poems made up of five or so lines that leave you thinking for five hours.
In The Better Way, Fearon explores a reality that many hope never to witness: suicide on the subway. You always hear rumors about daily jumpers; the codes spoken over the loud speaker get people thinking that every “emergency” at another station means death; and a couple of times a year the cover of the newspaper has a story about someone deciding their end, or worse, the end of another.
Dub poet Lillian Allen continues to define the form and explore its leading innovative edge. She has performed her work in many major venues in North America taking poetry to larger and larger audiences. She has produced Juno award winning recordings, critical acclaimed publications, and she has performed her work for television, film, radio, and print media across the world. Lillian is also a professor of creative writing at the Ontario College of Art and Design, inspiring students to claim space for their dreams in the world and to use their creativity to make revolution.
BCP: Why poetry?
LA: You ask why poetry? To that I would say, why not poetry? Poetry is the deprogramming faculty we have as humans that they would like us to believe is, or should be the purview of only a few. With poetry we can create our own textures and our own picture of life, we can create community, name the nameless and put out a point of view, a way of seeing that says we are unique and we can think for ourselves. Poetry is the answer to the roll call those in control have forgotten to do. Poetry is the “present” to this imaginary roll call.
Two white boys given immunity, one acquitted, one handed a life (?) sentence. A stolen and erased Aboriginal sister joins her ancestors. An Aboriginal community saddened and silenced:
This is the Helen Betty Osborne murder, court case, and disgrace.
Journalist Lisa Priest starts her sympathetic and problematic book Conspiracy of Silence by saying, “November 13, 1971 was cold and miserable.”
The cold and misery continued for sixteen-years until the four white boys were finally taken to trial; and November 13, 2011 makes it 40 years since Osborne was killed. Really, the cold and misery started hundreds of years ago when white settlers from Britain and France invaded Turtle Island (now known as Canada).
Not only do many falsely believe that slavery did not happen in Canada, far too many are unaware that Jim Crow laws existed here as well. In 1946, Viola Desmond was arrested for daring to sit in the White section of a movie house. She was dragged out of the theater by two men, injuring her knee in the process. To further shame Desmond, after her arrest, she was held in a male cell block. Eventually, she was charged with tax evasion because of the difference in price between White seats and Blacks seats. It was a difference of one cent. With the help of the NSACCP (The Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People), Desmond would take her fight to the supreme court of Nova Scotia. Desmond was a trailblazer and instead of being recognized as such, the Canadian government recently sought to pardon her, as though her arrest was actually a stain on her life, instead of the government itself.
Growing up and attending Canadian schools, I never learned a single word about Desmond and I believe that this was to continue the indoctrination that Canada is a tolerant, racially just society. I did not learn about the porters strike. I most certainly did not learn about the destruction of Africville. As a child, it forced me to look southward to find examples of people of the African diaspora to function as role models, rather than in my own country. I would continue to live in ignorance, had I not made a great effort to look beyond the lack of education I had been given in schools.
Black history month was intended to be inclusive, and teach about the sacrifices of people of the African Diaspora and instead, in my education, it served to further White supremacy — because specific events were chosen to frame Canada as a nation of tolerance. If we factor in that Black history month creates Black history as an additive, because it is not deemed important enough to focus on throughout the year, with the fact that it is often structured in such a manner that places importance on reducing the effect of White supremacy, the very existence of the month is problematic. It is hardly surprising that White supremacy would effect the celebration of our history, given that there is nothing outside its purview in North America.
Odel Johnson is a multidisciplinary roots reggae artist. Known as one of the North America’s best drummers, Odel has performed with many bands all over the globe including Juno Award-winning Messenjah.
The creator of two albums, Body, Mind, and Sold, and the new album Redemption, Odel has proven to be a great songwriter as well as percussionist.
By Guest Contributor Restructure!, cross-posted from Restructure!
“‘Too Asian’?” was not the first racist Maclean’s article lamenting the quantity of racialized people displacing white people and white power.
In 2006, Maclean’s published “The future belongs to Islam” by Mark Steyn, who assumed that Muslims all over the world were primarily focused on a shared goal of imposing Islamic law globally, and tried to bring to everyone’s attention that the birth rates of Muslim-majority countries were higher than the birth rates of European countries. Steyn also pointed out that although “Africa” has a high birth rate, it is “riddled with AIDS” and “as we saw in Rwanda, [Africans'] primary identity is tribal”. Steyn then invoked a white colonialist narrative by describing Muslim-majority areas as “Indian territory”, “lawless fringes of the map”, and “badlands” that needed to be “brought within the bounds of the ordered world.”
Janet Romero-Leiva is a queer feminist Latina visual artist and writer whose explores immigrant displacement, denied aboriginality, queer and of colour existence, living and loving in dos lenguas, and the continuous intersection of identities that shape who she is and how she moves in this world. Janet immigrated to canada at the age of 7 and has since been trying to find her footing between america of the north and america of the south. she loves smoothies, cartwheeling and can often be found reading children’s books at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore.
BCP: Why did you start writing poetry?
JR: It was by accident, I didn’t really know that is what I was doing…but I started writing because I felt a need to express and somehow release things I was trying to make sense out of – like my queerness, my feminism, my latinidad, my indigeneity, my experience of being an immigrant child.