This is the poem you couldn’t write

This is the poem

you couldn’t write


They took away

the relations – itahkomitowin

(I can only remember kôkhom and mushum)


They took away the stories – miywâcimowina


The conversations – âcimostakewin


But only for so long


the Ancestors – wahkomâkanak – remind us


listen they say, watch for us



These are the words

that belong to you –





Questions and Answers

Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?

I began to write poetry as far back as age 12. I have at least 50 journals filled with prose and poems.


How/where do you find inspiration today?

Today, I find inspiration from focusing on my identity as an Indigenous person and reclaiming knowledge that was denied to me in my younger years.


What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?

I was inspired to write this poem as a form of reclaiming language and expressing the re-acquisition of Indigenous experiences.


What poetic techniques did you use in this poem? How much attention do you pay to form and metre?

It was challenging to incorporate Indigenous language after generational loss. I felt both insecure and owed the right to at least try to use an Indigenous language.

This poem “This is the poem you couldn’t write” originally appeared in Canadian Literature 248 (2022): 120.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.