As the mountain was long-lost,
So I came—
You came.

Slab of stone,
Across a myriad sky.

Here it is not
New York
Or Dutch Guiana.

This exchange—
Blood for

Ontario is all I think about
You see,
Believe in…

Lake Superior at last,
A shale of entrance—
More of it…

Nanabijou too I am,
With other legends.

Virtues really,
A pelt beginning
Convincing me…

Who I am,
You are—
We are!

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Emblems”?

“Emblems”, I think, reflects the sense of Canada, the vastness of this large country-the second largest in the world, I think. I’d lived in Northwestern Ontario, around Lake Superior; and in my mind echoes of many things came to me, history, and where I was born—all in juxtaposition, yet with the sense of difference, of places, beings, everything coming to me, inspiring me, I think, with the images.

What poetic techniques did you use in “Emblems”?

No special technique as such I uses here, save for the sense of getting the correct line-lengths and the sense of the inner ear, as I’ve said before. Enjambment, too, where to break the lines in each stanza, and the stanzaic pattern as a whole, as I aimed for a certain harmony—not just outward form, but inner harmony; and how I used the metaphor of the “sleeping giant” image of northwestern Ontario (this is known as Nanabjiou, the Native legend of the Ojibway). Then everything came together as I wrote draft after draft, searching through memory, history, and integrating everything in a kind of synthesis, I feel, in the poem.

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