As Legions of Chiefs Fans Play Indian
The racism dehumanizes all of us
Boozhoo, indinawemaaganidog! Aaniin! That is to say hello, all of my relatives! Welcome to another edition of An Irritable Métis. This is one of those seeming “all about me” posts that I must occasionally inflict on you. There’s a lot going on! And success for any of us doing this creative work relies on everyone involved stepping up for one another. If a group invites me to participate in something it is my obligation to make sure people know about it, isn’t it? So in that sense, I think of it as an “all about us” post. I love the people I work with and I want everyone writing and doing the writing-adjacent work to succeed. Given I torpedoed my Twitter account (the smartest thing I’ve done for my mental health in years) this newsletter is really the only place to do it. I figure if you’re here, reading this, more than anywhere else I may post my whatnot
Which is to say I would be nothing without the involvement of others, and that includes you. This support, these paid subscriptions, your participation in the kind of opportunities I’m about to unleash below … I’ve said many times before it is a kind of mutual aid. We writers aren’t getting a lot of that from the “legitimate” outlets everyone wants to decorate their CVs with … but more on that next time. Suffice to say, your small monthly support, or once/year support, really does make a big, big difference. Miigwech!
I was the featured poet for the week of January 23rd at Olney magazine. They chose two poems to publish, one called “The Coffee Weed”and a second called “203 N. Rodney Street.” I like them both. You may check them out HERE.
As a nod to how community works, lifting each other up, etc., Olney’s wonderful poetry editor, Moira Walsh, is also a member of the Poetry Forge community and reached out to me for what became this opportunity. This gigantic world is sometimes exceedingly tiny.
Poets in Montana
My good friend Mark Gibbons is the current Montana State Poet Laureate. As his contribution to Montana poetry (as if he really needed to do more at this point) he has been working with MCATin Missoula to record conversations with poets around the state, some in studio, some via Zoom. He has done more than fifty of these things, I believe, and it’s really quite an accomplishment. That's 50+ hours of honest work! From a poet! As for me, I braved sideways-blowing snow for two entire blocks of Main Street just to answer the call and get to the library to document my participation a couple weeks ago. Our chat just aired a few days ago. It was fun to do. I haven't watched it yet myself, but I do recall, amazingly, there might be some salty language here and there. Nothing you haven't heard your children mutter behind your back, though. There is also lots of beard, lots of gray, and lots of dishevelment. I think it opens with a reading of "The Coffee Weed" maybe? We recorded this right when the Olney thing went live, if I recall....
APPLY NOW: Freeflow Scholarships
From the Freeflow Instagram page:
It's time to start thinking about getting outside with Freeflow in 2023. Our scholarship window opened on February 6th, and YOU should apply for funding! We have several scholarship programs to help support you on your 2023 Freeflow course. More info coming soon, but to help kickstart your imagination, think about these questions:
What innovative ideas do you have to communicate the importance of healthy rivers, landscapes, and communities?
How would a Freeflow course help you reach your creative, professional, academic, or personal goals?
What's the story you're hoping to tell, and how will you tell it?
For more info on Freeflow scholarships, check out THIS LINK, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I urge folks who might be interested in one of these outings – mine or any of the other ones – to apply for a scholarship. They aren’t inexpensive but no one is getting rich off them either. There are a lot of people trying to make livings associated with every facet of one of these excursions and they deserve to make living wages. So more and more the organization is working to raise funds to provide scholarships to make them affordable to everyone. It’s still a struggle but I think we are making progress.
April: Rewilding Bodies, Rewilding Writing via Zoom
This is my upcoming workshop for Freeflow that will go down Tuesday evenings 6:30 – 8:00 PM, April 4 – 25, 2023. I think we are still taking registrations for it; more details and registration information available by clicking HERE. I think you can get scholarships for online Freeflow courses too; it’s worth checking out.
I’ve really come to enjoy the occasional workshop over Zoom. The last couple I’ve done have been wonderful with interesting, engaged people. Community!
May: Poetry as Spiritual Practice, In Person in YNP!
I’m stoked to announce my in person Poetry as Spiritual Practice workshop that was to occur last summer at Lamar Buffalo Ranch in Yellowstone National Park but was canceled due to the historic floods has been rescheduled! It will go down May 22 – 25, which should be a gorgeous time in the area. It might be spring! It might be teasing summer! It could even still be the height of winter! Odds are, we’ll experience all three seasons that week!
Anyway, all the details, including opportunities to register, may be found HERE. I’d love to see a couple of you there. I’ve done this workshop three times now via Zoom and I’m looking forward to a chance to do it in person. Besides workshopping, there will be ample time for solitary reflection, group outings out into the Lamar Valley, etc. What an opportunity for all of us!
June: Jackson Hole Writers Conference
I’ve been invited to be a Featured Speaker at the 2023 Jackson Hole Writers Conference. I’ll be doing a keynote address, a couple workshops, and trying not to flail. It’s in a beautiful place I’ve never visited and I hope some of you can make it! All the details HERE.
July: Good Ancestors with the Freeflow Institute
I’m unreasonably excited about the Freeflow course I am leading this summer, if we get enough people to sign up for it. It’s happening in July and it’s called Good Ancestors. Here’s the lowdown:
We are all ancestors. We are ancestors as beings made of spirit before our births and again after we live our lives and return to the spirit world. We are ancestors as physical beings inhabiting a lifetime. The actions of each influence how we exist in the other.
“In every moment, whether we like it or not and whether we know it or not, we are advancing values and influencing systems that will continue long past our lifetimes,” write the editors in the introduction to What Kind of Ancestor Do You Want to Be? (2021, University of Chicago Press). “These values and systems shape communities and lives that we will never see. The ways we live create and reinforce the foundation of life for future generations. We are responsible for how we write our values, what storylines we further and set forth—the world we choose to cultivate for the lives that follow ours. So how are we to live?”
So unfolds a simple question: what does it mean to be a “good” ancestor? What are the values we will choose to write? How do we honor those who came before, and those to follow? Should we even care? Do we? These questions and others will form the basis for the summer Freeflow workshop on the Missouri River: Good Ancestors.
All the information is HERE.
This is going to be one of those once-in-a-lifetime events for so many of us. Including me. I’d love to see you out there.
And more to come….
There are other things coming up later in the year as well, not to mention various powwows and the like I intend to show up for. Summer is shaping up wonderfully, and it is looking like another busy one. I’m looking forward to every bit of it.
Sunday is the Super Bowl. I won’t be watching. I loathe the NFL. I think it is a perfect microcosm of everything awful about our society: exploitation, billionaire worship, misogyny, racism, and any number of other societal ills ... not the least of which is the very common response of, “Yeah, I know, but I watch it anyway.”So with all that said, I’m going to leave this right here as an exclamation point:
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I still have an Instagram account but I think that app has become largely useless for promoting anything, hasn’t it? Its days are numbered for me anyway. I literally just talked myself out of deleting it, a discussion I have with myself almost every day. [UPDATE: DEACTIVATED! UGH.] Just like I do this newsletter, access to the internet, All of It. The internet and devices and everything associated with them are not good for my mental health anymore at all, even as I’m sitting here using it to promote all of my bullshit. What a trial. I don’t know.
I’ve always hated this “word” because a “supervisor” at an old job used it relentlessly, so now I unleash it now and then just to spite myself and it truly amuses me.
The title, and the theme, was inspired by using the July 19th entry from Earth Almanac: Nature’s Calendar for Year-Round Discovery by Ken Keffer, as a writing prompt. This entry was specifically about the plant called Chicory.
Louis Riel is as important to the history of my people as anyone. He is literally the most written about political figure in all of Canadian history and yet few people this side of the Medicine Line know who he is. The last years of his life before he was hung (for sedition against the Queen)(oh yeah, but he was an American citizen by then) post-North West Rebellion in 1885 were lived in Helena, MT.
Missoula Community Access Television
This is one of those particularly contrary opinions I tried not to make on social media when a big cultural event was happening because I didn’t want to be “that guy” raining on everyone else’s parade. That’s the beauty of this newsletter, though: it’s my freakin’ parade. Sometimes the rain is the point.
I was never into football, but it’s a sport loathsome from its inception: invented by frat boys who were jealous of Civil War veterans having violent stories to tell, with eye gouging a legal move. Now 80% of players show signs of CTE but we still sign little boys up to go to war and bash their brains in.
I left Twitter the day after the election. There’s a strain of FOMO that pertains only to politics, and I had it bad. I had to know all the takes. Musk’s evil (too strong a word? Nah.) was the impetus to leave, and it was a blessing to me, even as he continues to wreck all he touches. Anyway, there’s enough outrage without stoking it and stroking it online. I enjoyed your poems. I’ve never heard of coffee weed, but we have yaupon holly bushes that I’ve been told we’re used to make a caffeine-rich tea, and I’ve been meaning to try that. As always, thank you for the light you bring.