What do you think of me, Dad,
writing this in Cree?
Could there have been more room
for a Cree conversation,
for a Cree understanding,
for a daughter's understanding
her father's honour
in the space between, tawayihk,
your childhood and your passing.
Is it enough that I've
cleared a space on my desk
to light this candle for you?
Would that I could
have made more room.
Through poems that move between the two languages, McIlwraithexplores the beauty of the intersection between nehiyawewin,the Plains Cree language, and English, akayasimowin. Writtento honour her father's facility in nehiyawewin and hermother's beauty and generosity as an inheritor of Cree, Ojibwe,Scottish, and English, kiyam articulates a powerful yearningfor family, history, peace, and love.
Naomi McIlwraith is an educator, poet, and essayist,with a mixed Cree, Ojibwe, Scottish, and English inheritance. Shecurrently works at Grant MacEwan University and has held instructionalpositions at the University of Alberta and the King's UniversityCollege.
kikwaya ka-masinahikateki ota contents Foreword Jenna Butler ix The Sounds of Plains Cree: A Guide to Pronunciation xi Family Poems The Road to Writer's Block (A Poem to Myself) 5 Trademark Translation 12 paskwahk | On the Prairie 13 kiya ka-pakaski-nimihitoyan | You Who Dance SoBrightly 15 tawaw | There Is Room, Always Room for One More 17 Perfect Not Perfect 20 tawastew | The Passage Is Safe 21 pahkwesikan | Bread 23 e-witisanihitoyahk asici pikiskwewin | Language Family28 e-witisanihitoyahk ekwa e-peyahtakoweyahk | Relative Clause33 Critical Race Theory at Canadian Tire 39 Reclamation Poems Cree Lessons 43 tanisi ka-isi-nihta-ahpinihkeyan | How to Tan a Hide 45 aniki niso napewak ka-pikiskwecik | Two Men Talking 49 nohtawiy opikiskwewin | Father Tongue 52 ninitahtamon kititwewiniwawa | I Borrow Your Words 58 aniki niso napewak ka-masinahikecik | Two Men Writing61 sapohtawan | Ghost Dance 62 e-ki-piciciyahk | We Danced Round Dance 66 A Few Ideas fromamiskwaci-waskahikanihk The Young Linguist 73 tanisi ka-isi-nihta-pimihkeyan | How to Make Pemmican74 History Poems maskihkiy maskwa iskwew oma wiya ohci | For Medicine BearWoman 87 mistahi-maskwa 91 Take This Rope and This Poem (A Letter for Big Bear) 94 sohkikapawi, nitotem | Stand Strong, My Friend 98 kah-kihtwam | Again and Again 102 niki-pe-pimiskan | I Came This Way by Canoe 107 Spinning 110 Practicing for My Defence 112 Like a Bead on a String 115 ihkatawaw ay-itwehiwew | The Marsh Sends a Message 116 kakwecihkemowin ohci kanata otacimowina 117 A Question for Canadian History 118 kiskinohamakewin ohci kanata otacimowina 119 An Instruction for Canadian History 120 kiyam | Let It Be 121 Notes on the Poems 123 Cree-English Correspondences 127 Bibliography 153 Publication Credits 157 Acknowledgements 159