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Poets & Storytellers 2021

pjjohnsonYukon

On Canada Day July 1, 1994, pjjohnson the daughter of a Yukon trapper was the first officially-invested poet laureate in Canada and given the title Poet Laureate of the Yukon. Today, 27 years later she is the longest-serving Poet Laureate in Canada.
As an oral/visual artist from a northern storytelling culture her poems, stories, plays and songs have been televised and performed at various venues across Canada and around the world. Her creative works have been translated into several languages, and published in books and journals globally.
Known as the Yukon Raven Lady, johnson is also a passionate animal rights advocate currently campaigning to protect the northern sled dogs. Diagnosed with ‘Nonverbal Learning Disorder’, she encourages people with a learning disability to pursue their dreams. 
Her book “it’s howlin’ time!” about the life and times of a northern Canadian poet laureate is available at Mac’s Fireweed Books in Whitehorse and on Amazon. 
https://www.yukonpoetlaureate.com/
 


Poem: “it was the land”

Written as I and my fellow Canadians struggled to come to terms with the ongoing discovery of unmarked graves on the grounds of residential schools in Canada. In honour of the many children who never came home this poem is called “it was the land”.
 

no one knew the evil men could do
behind closed doors
no one spoke of it
no one said sorry
and in the end
it was the land
the very land itself
that spoke

it was the land
that carried the secrets
that knew the truth
that yielded a million sorrows
that stopped us like a thunderbolt
in the streets.
god forgive us
the whispers were true

it was the land that spoke for thousands
denied a life. denied a family
denied a mother tongue
and as our grief-filled days
stretched out before us 
like a blanket of fear
from the land of the Mi’kmaq to Haida Gwaii
we were numb with disbelief

for it was the land
the very land itself
that spoke to us in the darkness
in the sacred smoke of our ancestors
and in the voices of our children
who whispered on the wind
guiding us
showing us the way

telling us
there will be a time
for coming together
as a nation. as a people. and as a family
to celebrate now
and lift our brother sand sisters
as never before
our tears are never far from the surface
 
it always gets darker before the light comes back
 

©pjjohnson2021

 

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