148 pages, 6 x 8
Release Date:01 Apr 2012



Athabasca University Press

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, tawâyihk,

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.

nipakosêyimon kahkî-tawinamâtân.

Through poems that move between the two languages, McIlwraithexplores the beauty of the intersection between nêhiyawêwin,the Plains Cree language, and English, âkayâsîmowin. Writtento honour her father's facility in nêhiyawêwin and hermother's beauty and generosity as an inheritor of Cree, Ojibwe,Scottish, and English, kiyâm articulates a powerful yearningfor family, history, peace, and love.

In a clear and engaging voice, McIlwraith provides an intriguing view of a woman and a writer navigating the pathways between the European literary tradition and the oral tradition of the First Nations and Métis, negotiating these two vastly different linguistic worlds. Jenna Butler, MacEwan University
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.

kîkwaya kâ-masinahikâtêki ôta 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

paskwâhk | On the Prairie 13

kiya kâ-pakaski-nîmihitoyan | You Who Dance SoBrightly 15

tawâw | There Is Room, Always Room for One More 17

Perfect Not Perfect 20

tawastêw | The Passage Is Safe 21

pahkwêsikan | Bread 23

ê-wîtisânîhitoyâhk asici pîkiskwêwin | Language Family28

ê-wîtisânîhitoyâhk êkwa ê-pêyâhtakowêyâhk | Relative Clause33

Critical Race Theory at Canadian Tire 39

Reclamation Poems

Cree Lessons 43

tânisi ka-isi-nihtâ-âhpinihkêyan | How to Tan a Hide 45

aniki nîso nâpêwak kâ-pîkiskwêcik | Two Men Talking 49

nohtâwiy opîkiskwêwin | Father Tongue 52

ninitâhtâmon kititwêwiniwâwa | I Borrow Your Words 58

aniki nîso nâpêwak kâ-masinahikêcik | Two Men Writing61

sâpohtawân | Ghost Dance 62

ê-kî-pîcicîyâhk | We Danced Round Dance 66

A Few Ideas fromamiskwacî-wâskahikanihk

The Young Linguist 73

tânisi ka-isi-nihtâ-pimîhkêyan | How to Make Pemmican74

History Poems

maskihkiy maskwa iskwêw ôma wiya ohci | For Medicine BearWoman 87

mistahi-maskwa 91

Take This Rope and This Poem (A Letter for Big Bear) 94

sôhkikâpawi, nitôtêm | Stand Strong, My Friend 98

kâh-kîhtwâm | Again and Again 102

nikî-pê-pimiskân | I Came This Way by Canoe 107

Spinning 110

Practicing for My Defence 112

Like a Bead on a String 115

ihkatawâw ay-itwêhiwêw | The Marsh Sends a Message 116

kakwêcihkêmowin ohci kânata otâcimowina 117

A Question for Canadian History 118

kiskinohamâkêwin ohci kânata otâcimowina 119

An Instruction for Canadian History 120

kiyâm | Let It Be 121

Notes on the Poems 123

Cree-English Correspondences 127

Bibliography 153

Publication Credits 157

Acknowledgements 159

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