Essay PreviewMore ↓
Louise Halfe – Healing Through Orality and
Spirituality in Poetry
Louise Bernice Halfe was born in 1953 in Two Hills, Alberta. Her Cree name is SkyDancer. She grew up a member of the Saddle Lake Reserve and at the age of 7 was sent to the Blue Quills Residential School in St. Paul, Alberta. . After leaving the school at the age of 16, she attended St. Paul’s Regional High School where she began to journal about her life experiences. (McNally Robinson)
Halfe has a degree in Social Work from the University of Regina, as well as training in drug and addiction counseling (Moses and Goldie 396). In 1990, she made her first appearance as a poet in Writing the Circle: Native Women of Western Canada. Her other works include Bear Bones and Feather which received the Canadian Peoples Poet Award and Blue Marrow which was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry. The Crooked Good is her latest novel which has just been published.
In January of 2005, Halfe was named Saskatchewan’s poet Laureate. She currently lives in Saskatoon with her husband and has two grown children. (McNally Robinson)
“I write because I love. I write for the survival of self, my children, my family, my community and for the Earth. I write to help keep our stories, our truths, our language alive”. (qtd. in Anthology 396.)
This quote describes how Louise Halfe uses all four common elements of native literature in her writings. I have chosen to discuss two of the elements she frequently uses, Spirituality and Orality in relation to three of her poems: My Ledders, She Told Me and The Heat of my Grandmothers.
Orality is used widely in Halfe’s poetry. In My Ledders she writes as if it were being spoken, using phonetic spelling. It is written in the form of a letter from a native woman to the Pope. She starts the poem “dear pope i no, i no, you dired of my ledders i couldn’t let dis one go i dought you could do somedin ‘ bout it.” (403)
Halfe also uses the repetition of words to express orality.
How to Cite this Page
"Louise Halfe." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Jul 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Canadian Literature Louise Halfe – Healing Through Orality and Spirituality in Poetry Louise Bernice Halfe was born in 1953 in Two Hills, Alberta. Her Cree name is SkyDancer. She grew up a member of the Saddle Lake Reserve and at the age of 7 was sent to the Blue Quills Residential School in St. Paul, Alberta. . After leaving the school at the age of 16, she attended St. Paul’s Regional High School where she began to journal about her life experiences. (McNally Robinson) Halfe has a degree in Social Work from the University of Regina, as well as training in drug and addiction counseling (Moses and Goldie 396).... [tags: Canadian Literature]
1005 words (2.9 pages)
- It is said that when a man returns from war he is forever changed. In the short story, “The Red Convertible,” Louise Erdrich demonstrates these transformations through the use of symbolism. Erdrich employs the convertible to characterize the emotional afflictions that war creates for the soldier and his family around him by discussing the pre-deployment relationship between two brothers Henry and Lyman, Lyman's perception of Henry upon Henry's return, and Henry’s assumed view on life in the end of the story.... [tags: the red convertible, louise erdrich]
921 words (2.6 pages)
- Mentorship: From Childhood to the Man Louise Erdrich explores the inner conflicts of an Indian tribe in her novel Tracks. By the end of the novel, the tribes’ accord is broken by the lure of the white man’s money and land reform. The divisions among the tribe are epitomized by the physical separation of the Chippewa people into different colors that correspond to their different land allotments. However, one chapter in particular contrasts with the tribe’s tendency towards discord. Chapter 5, in which Nanapush and Eli overcome their differences and unite in an attempt to avoid starvation lends hope to the ominous series of events throughout Tracks which show conflict developing from unity.... [tags: Louise Erdrich Tracks]
1075 words (3.1 pages)
- Analysis of Louise Erdrich's Fleur It's easy to find Louise Erdrich among the canon of what have come to be known as western writers. Her name (or names, given the mltiple pseudonyms) pops up right near the top along with Cormac McCarthy and Elmer Kelton. And as impressive as her noteriety is, one eventually wonders if "western writer" isn't an albatross hanging around the neck of her career. Maybe it's Tolkien's fault. After all, he's the one who created an entire genre in which setting is paramount to plot or conflict.... [tags: Louise Erdrich Fleur Literature Writers Essays]
406 words (1.2 pages)
- Louise Erdrich's Tracks In Louise Erdrich’s “Tracks';, the readers discovers by the second chapter that there are two narrators, Nanapush and Pauline Puyat. This method of having two narrators telling their stories alternately could be at first confusing, especially if the readers hasn’t been briefed about it or hasn’t read a synopsis of it. Traditionally, there is one narrator in the story, but Erdrich does an effective and spectacular job in combining Nanapush and Pauline’s stories. It is so well written that one might question as he or she reads who is the principal character in this story.... [tags: Louise Erdrich Tracks Essays]
1117 words (3.2 pages)
- Transformation in Louise Erdrich's The Red Convertible In Louise Erdrich's "The Red Convertible," the two main characters start off doing seemingly well. However, there are many changes that these two young men go through during the story. Henry experiences the largest transformation due to his involvement in the Vietnam War. This transformation also alters Henry's brother, Lyman, although not for the same reasons. As the story progresses, and these certain events take place, the brothers' innocence is soon lost.... [tags: Red Convertible Essays Louise Erdrich ]
1088 words (3.1 pages)
- Communication Between Men and Women in "Thelma and Louise" Works Cited In communication between men and women, the two genders always communicate differently. Traditionally men communicate facts directly and are less likely to discuss details that have little to do with the conversation. Women traditionally are more careful about what they say and seek to build relationships by the way they communicate. These two forms of communication, direct (traditional male) and indirect (traditional female), are consistent throughout most cultures.... [tags: Thelma Louise Communication Essays]
1649 words (4.7 pages)
- Kidnapping colonists during the struggle for land in the early centuries of American history was a strong force influencing the images of Native Americans circulating among the Puritan pioneers. During these centuries, the battles between the natives and the Puritans cost thousands of lives on both sides, and countless stories in the forms of captivity narratives revealed truths and myths about the Native people. Although there were countless pieces of literature and propaganda published in this time period, the actual Indian captivity narratives have been narrowed down to works “that presumably record with some degree of verisimilitude the experiences of non-Indians who were captures by Ame... [tags: Louise Erdrich Captivity Poem native Essays]
3456 words (9.9 pages)
- The Effects of War Shown in Louise Erdrich's The Red Convertible It is always said that war changes people. In the short story 'The Red Convertible', Louise Erdrich uses Henry to show how it affects people. In this case, the effects are psychological. You can clearly see a difference between his personalities from before he goes to war compared to his personalities after returns home from the war. Before the war, he is a care-free soul who just likes to have fun. After the war, he is very quiet and defensive, always watching his back as if waiting for someone to strike.... [tags: Louise Erdrich Red Convertible War Essays]
657 words (1.9 pages)
- Arts of the Contact Zone by Mary Louise Pratt The Arts of the Contact Zone by Mary Louise Pratt opened up a whole new concept for our class. The new term “contact zone” appeared and Pratt defined it as "social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today." The idea of the contact zone is intended in part to contrast with ideas of community that trigger much of the thinking about language, communication, and culture.... [tags: Arts of the Contact Zone Mary Louise Pratt]
571 words (1.6 pages)
Another example of how Halfe uses storytelling and oral traditions is in her poem The Heat of My Grandmothers. Here Halfe tells the story of her Grandmothers’ life, marriage, birth and the death.
In all three of these poems, Halfe intersperses the Cree Language with English, which again shows oral traditions and her need to keep her culture alive. I also feel that it shows her struggle with living in a white society and being a native person. In My Ledders, she says “years ago you stopped nōhkom and nimson” as well the words ‘isistawina’, ‘mātotsān’, and ‘kimoti’. (403-404). In She Told Me, Halfe says “Āstam, we are leaving āstam do not stay” (398) and in the first verse of The Heat of my Grandmothers “The old man calls my Nōhkomak, a bunch of bitches, pisikwatisiw.” (405)
The element of Spirituality is a main theme for Louse Halfe. This is shown greatly in her poem The Heat of my Grandmothers.
Here Halfe describes intimacy and love in the first verse “yes I took painted warriors molded their sinew thighs into my flesh” (405) and in the second verse “that winter in our teepee the smoke couldn’t hide the fragrance of muskeg tea and juniper we mixed between our bodies.”(406)
This poem also shows her connectedness with nature when describing the deaths of her grandmothers’ husbands: “called magpie, crow and raven to clean his body” and “wailed till the buffalo sweat melted his skin into the prairie grass.” (406)
Spirituality is also used in the poem She told me. Halfe describes the menstrual cycle as the moon and the power that women have during this time in the line “never to walk over me while I was in my moon or they would die from my power”. (398) Furthermore, in this poem she talks about spirits in the line “to put the food away at night to cove the dishes or the spirits would crackle and dance whistle in our ears and drive us mad” and “take a willow branch and gently whip the spirits out of the house”.(398)
The Spirituality in My Ledders speaks of how it is not right to steal native ceremonies and customs. In this poem, a native woman is writing a letter to the Pope, asking how he would like it if her people performed Holy Communion without the understanding and respect of the bread and wine. “I don’t dink you like it if I dook you gold cup and wine pass it ‘round our circles” and “I haven’t married you jeesuz and I don’t kneel to him cuz he ain’t my god”. (404) How the white men lack understanding of the native rituals, tobacco and the sweat lodge is shown in the verse “dese men, pope don’t know what tobacco mean, what suffer mean”.(404)
By using spirituality and orality in her work, Halve shows us how sharing her history, language, traditions and her connectedness to the earth can help in healing others and past injustices.
“I don’t tell the story, I share the story. And so its’ showing rather than telling” (qtd. in Windspeaker)
Halfe, Louise. “She told me.” Moses and Goldie 398.
Halfe, Louise. “My Ledders.” Moses and Goldie 403-404.
Halfe, Louise. “The Heat of My Grandmothers.” Moses and Goldie 405-406
Moses, Daniel David and Terry Goldie, eds. An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English. 3rd ed. Canada: Oxford University Press, 2005.
McNally Robinson. 12 Feb. 2008. http://www.mcnallyrobinson.com/event- 6934/Louise-Bernice-Halfe
Petten, Cheryl. “Saskatchewan’s new Laureate Alberta-born.” Windspeaker Mar. 2005:18.