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.
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.
kîkwaya kâ-masinahikâtêki ôta contents
Foreword Jenna Butler ix
The Sounds of Plains Cree: A Guide to Pronunciation xi
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
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
maskihkiy maskwa iskwêw ôma wiya ohci | For Medicine BearWoman 87
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
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
Publication Credits 157
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