In prisons in Canada and around the world, a large percentage of criminalized people, who are more often than not, victimized people, Indigenous people make up significant percentages. In a recent *talk I gave, accompanying Indigenous Elder and Artist Philip Cote, we addressed what happens when colonial narratives and patriarchal narratives collide. The result is that our worldviews are shattered. When our worldviews, which are our foundational way of meaning-making, are dismissed, denied, and in the case of cultural genocide: decimated, our heart health fails. Our bodies, our minds, our souls become disconnected become dissociated. Become imprisoned. Imprisoned in the figurative sense and eventually over time, in the literal sense.
Moderator’s Note: Margot reads each of her poems aloud. They can be heard through the links in the titles.
“And what then is poetry?” We ask this time and time and time again. And poetry HERself answers. SHE needs no descriptor. Mimetic sagacity spells HER clarity. ~~~ Dreams be Fed I am a body that remembers
The joys of falling into hues of
Brilliant blues and greens.
I am a soul that trades in Cinnamon and spices.
Elevating chance. Caressing mystery. I am a will that conceives fat Ebullient Moon as Golden Goddess. Divine.
When Reverend Anne Hines of Roncesvalles United Church in Toronto invited me to write a poem for Easter Sunday 2020, I had no idea that this invitation would become a dance with Word via words, that would alter my very own relating and relationship with my métier: poetry. A relationship that began to take me back into reading The Bible in a manner that shone a powerful light on the fact of that book’s capacity to shake, quake, challenge, and enlighten from the place of love, Wisdom, and indeed, inclusivity.
Each Monday I receive three to four words or phrases based on the book around which the Sunday sharing will be grounded. I read the chapter. I read with the HEaRt of womyn’s voice-ing. I read to unearth, to divine, to HEaR what is being invited, and how. The underpinning of my HEaRt’s listening, is the question: how does Godde wish for us to love?
In a recent interview about my current published paper and my life’s-work, Sawbonna, which is a model of both social and restorative justice, I was struck by how being locked down due to this global pandemic not only rips us to the core of our fears and forebodings; but, as well, invites us, if challenges us, to witness with and for each other, as we come to see the depth of resilience that has been a kindred companion throughout the ages. From time immemorial, Gaia delights by firing our hearts of justice with creativity. With love.
My interview took place over Zoom, a virtual bridge of connection and connecting. In this instance, that bridge stretched between Toronto, Canada and Cork, Ireland, where activist and researcher Jane Mulcahy and I spoke about Sawbonna, which is contextualized in the crucible of shared-humanity and human-rights. We discussed therapeutic writing, voice, trauma, poetry. Our conversation [which will be on Jane’s SoundCloud platform later this year] was infused with a crystal clear knowing that trauma and grief are in symbiotic sisterhood with resilience and voice. Continue reading “Gaia Delights: Sawbonna Resilience and the Pandemic by Margot Van Sluytman/Raven Speaks”
From the day my Father, Theodore, was brutally and callously murdered in Toronto, on Easter Monday, March 27, 1978, I wanted to meet his killer. I wanted to know how it was possible to do such a horrific thing. I wanted to know how he felt about destroying the lives of so many; my family’s, and his own.
We did meet. The meeting occurred in July of 2007. Because of reading about an award I received for my Therapeutic Writing Workshops and the publication of my books about healing, voice, and agency, he emailed me. Our meeting, our reconciliation, even those many years after that dark, dark day, was a rich blessing in my life, and proved helpful for him too.
The word forgiveness, is one that can lead to great suffering for victims and offenders alike. Victims are told that if they do not forgive, they cannot heal. Offenders are told that if they are not forgiven, they cannot move on from the crime they have committed. Forgiveness is a loaded word, with as many understandings, expectations, and definitions as there are experiences of savage loss, savage grief, savage pain.
compel my flesh to stir.
will new landscapes through
dine upon my potent supplication.
peel the lonely longing from
your swelling desire.
partake of flaming majesty, while
speaking: yes, over and over and
over again, rising and falling in
love’s newly remembered caress.
breathe me in.
breathe me out. Continue reading “Agape: Inspiration and Word Made Flesh by Margot Van Sluytman”
Justice as a lived and living experience is a poem. Is a song. And as a song it is filled with all manner of rhythm, of texture, and of sound via melody and lyric which affects us in an infinity of ways. The voice of poetry is the voice of The Song of Songs. It is a voice of invitation. Chapter Two of The Song of Songs is an invitation to strangers to Scripture. Strangers who want to feel a rhythm of joy, of loving embrace of tender and generous welcome. The gravity of the language is its graceful invitation to be seen, to be gazed at, to be heard.
My own vocation as a Sawbonna/Restorative Justice practitioner and a Therapeutic Writing facilitator, has blessed me with the opportunity to share words, via Word, in many different places and spaces around the Globe. The word that I use for justice as a lived and living experience is: Sawbonna. Sawbonna is a Zulu greeting that means I see you. You see me. I hear you. You hear me. Sawbonna contextualizes Restorative Justice in the crucible of our connectedness. Sawbonna, which is the essence of Chapter Two of The Song of Songs, clears the way for engagement, via words, with Word. Continue reading “Covenanting Justice. Covenanting Joy. by Margot Van Sluytman”