A Week with Roots

The week’s an interesting one, by its end having visited my hometown of DeWitt twice. This frequency is rare, without immediate family residing there since the mid-1990s. My second trip comes this Thursday, November 17, for a reading of Circle. . .Home at the DeWitt District Library, 13101 Schavey Road, from 7:00pm to 8:00pm. Thanks to the Clinton County Historical Society for joining the event!

My first visit took me to the Creative Writing Club of DeWitt High School, from which I graduated with the Class of 1992, to my knowledge the last class with only 100 students. From that year, the Anishinabeg land — once widely farmed by immigrants — exploded with suburbanization, a process that began while my grandfather still was a dairy farmer. The conversation with students bubbled in their Class-A, two-story structure on Panther Drive, the paved way named after the school mascot; meanwhile, my “old” high-school is currently a middle-school.

The circle expressed particular interest in being a writer and publishing. It’s my hope to have encouraged them to pursue their own path — not one laid out by status-quo notions of career or writing — in other words, to be true to themselves. Such truth stems from one’s roots, which we need tap in order to bear our cultural legacies, in order to honor the land(s) from which we come, in order to use our gifts for present and future generations.

In the hub of energy and excitement, I’m sure some of my responses didn’t reach full circle, as one thought or another jumped the tracks. Once a reporter told me I have an “interesting” conversation style; apparently, I pick up a new point while still processing another! This case may very well be true, having been diagnosed with ADD after graduate school. So here I’ll take a moment to share a couple of thoughts that kicked around during the club visit. And thanks to clubbers and adviser Eder DeLaCruz for hosting!

  • Chrystos, a two-spirit poet-activist, advised me to share my poetry through chapbooks (self-published collections), since small presses that once took on women’s radical work have folded. I first took her advice with my friends to create Echoes of Women (2006), dedicated to our friend Samantha, a beautiful poet-teacher who we lost to suicide. Truth: The wisdom of elders and experience are necessary to keep our stories alive, and inspire innovations to survive a new time.
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  • After the first day of public-speaking as a high-school sophomore, I anxiously transferred to something else, having been terrified after just one class. Nowadays, bringing words to life with people in real-time is what energizes my community work, aligning the power of The Word with the power of The People. Gathering a circle from various walks of life to listen to one another is powerful, as are all acts rooted in love. Truth: Despite past fears or current oppressions, embracing what keeps us alive — body, mind, and soul — is a matter of building up ourselves and our communities.
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Finally, thanks to you, subscribers and readers, for following Dey of the Phoenix! Wishing you an inspired day, full of hope and enthusiasm.

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