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May 31, 2009

I never update this thing, and I should since my new job doesn’t have an outlet to write creatively.

I love Derek Walcott. I can start with this. It’s true. When I was studying Literature and I was fed up with the canon offered to me, I found solace in Walcott. He spoke to me. As a Black Anishnabec who grew up on both sides of the border, who knows my Carribean roots as well as my Ojibway heritage,  I have an obtuse way of seeing things. In literature it was the canon of authors who defined other ethnic groups and made themselves exclusive.

Its hard to take part in a practice that seems to omit a whole groups experience. It may be that I chose to study literature in a school that relegated stories not written by Europeans to the background. I’m not dissing my alma mater. And in fact, I enjoyed my education there. It got me out of the ghetto.  But why weren’t Shake Keane, Derke Walcott, Hughes, or Ellison introduced in high-school?

I went to a high school in Toronto, a mostly West Indian class of students. And if it wasn’t for my mother’s occupation I would have never paid attention to literature. It was simply that Shakespeare doesn’t say a thing to me and my experience. And if young African-Canadian students continue to drop out, it’s because the arts programs do not make those students feel  inclusive.

The education program does not draw on the power of those young people to define and shape Canada or to recognize the voices of many people who have defined and shaped literature, like Walcott. It was unfortunate that I did not discover Walcott or Ellison or Achebe until my final year of university.

But I did. And Walcott is awesome. BTW peotry needs a scandolous shake up and it looks like it’s getting it. I’ve been following the scandal in the Globe and Mail, peep the link. You know what they say, “if it bleeds it leads.” Maybe people will start paying attention to poetry if these intelligent people keep behaving like children.

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