Jamie Randall is a member of the Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe in northern Wisconsin. She is currently completing an MFA in Creative Writing from Augsburg University, while working at a community college, dismantling the systems of oppression, and raising two amazing little people with her partner in Minnesota. Jamie seeks the rhythms of the world that have been lost to colonization and tries to release them in her poetry.
This poem was written in response to attending a Weave Residency rehearsal on January 5, 2019. This performance was at the O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University.
Decolonizing the Soul
Speak with the world around you
Pull strength from lofty stalks
Manoomin dancing on water
Feel air swaying
Life moves through all
Coursing through echoing chambers
Heartbeat Ancestral Birth Pulling Soul
Pick them up and cradle them
within your swaying arms
Cut off pieces that are
Creaking and popping
as you brush them off
these ephemeral branches
This poem was written in response to a community engagement event, Get Real: A Native Feminist Artist Dialogue, which was held at Augsburg University on 1/7/19. The panelists were Sharon M. Day, Marcie Rendon, Elizabeth Day, Heid E. Erdrich, Rhiana Yazzie, and Rosy Simas.
This panel was moderated by Ananya Chatterjea.
Be Brave: Advice from a Native Feminist Artist Dialogue
1. Say your name. Say it with the music of your tongue, in places where it doesn’t belong, which will be almost everywhere, dear one.
2. Play all the roles. The shapes and curves that you have never seen, on stages and streets your feet have never touched. Unapologetically, claim your space in this scene.
3. See the dimensions of yourself. See them writing the stories that echo in your ears, turning up the songs that move your blood, and building the places you remember.
4. Send your essence into the world. Let it seek its counterpoint in others, and run so far that it no longer belongs to your bones alone. Let it demand to be seen and take form where only ether had been.
5. Open the path for others. Pluck their earnest hesitations from the walls that line the path and teach them how to shatter them upon the ground. Laugh together as you feel the shards scatter around your feet.
6. Write the truth you know, as you know it, and how you know it. Push away the lies that burden the bodies of us all. Paint over them with your words, building layers to climb.
7. Let your soul feel the ache of what has been missing. Close your eyes and feel the wholeness of you as your tired depths buoyed by the embrace of this love.
In late summer, I was asked to participate in witnessing a rehearsal of Weave. Community witness is one aspect of the entire project, where different facets will be brought together to create the production. I went into the space with very little context so I would be able to fill my senses with the experience.
This particular rehearsal was held in the Ivy Arts building in South Minneapolis. As I found my way I noticed the halls were filled with offices and workspaces, many of them healers in some way or another – occupational therapy, bike repair, massage. The rehearsal space itself was the was warm with dark wood floors.
I was early so there was still pre-rehearsal prep going on – dancers were stretching, sound and projectors were being tested – I settled on a sofa in the corner of this large room and waited. Soon more people began to arrive and find seats. A hush settled as Rosy Simas walked to the front and explained to the audience what would be happening next.
In honor of what I witnessed that evening, I offer this poem which came from what I saw and heard and felt that night:
I once walked off
of an underwater cliff
As I looked into the
ocean’s great eye
a shadow appeared
from the deep azure
Rising over horizons of
black and purple
Shadow formed sea turtle
It began a dance
We moved along the lines of
each other’s curves
In the slow moving thunder
the current and wave
I let the turtle swallow me whole