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What is Historical Collage Poetry?
How do you take one's life experiences and write it as a poem? In the Elder Project chapbooks students interview Elders. They ask a series of questions (e.g. What are your favorite memories?) and the students write a poem from their notes. During the process, Wendy teaches the students to hear and see the poetry in the Elder's life and words.
An example of this happened in the chapbook Together with the Children. A niece was interviewing her aunt. The aunt said, "We ate straight from the dirt." The student wrote, "My aunt had a garden." I happened to be sitting in on the interview and I interjected. I said, 'we ate straight from the dirt' is an example of hearing the poetry in the Elder's words and this phrase deepens the impact and visual insight into your Auntie's life.' The student listened and it was evident she was thinking about it. When she wrote her poem, she put both her line and her Auntie's words into the poem.
Historical Collage Poetry keeps the integrity of the Elder's words and student's writing intact. Edits, alterations, changes to any phrases, words, or poetic structure is only done with the Elder's and student's permission. This process takes time and it's worth every moment and conversation. The resulting poem is magical!
Now go open one of the many wonderful chapbooks and read a lot of poetry!
Sandra Lynn Lynxleg
By Sabrina Fink, BC First Nations 12 student Fulton Secondary
Poem from Together with the Children
HISTORICAL COLLAGE POETRY
Metis Elder, William Gagne