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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing English-Chinese Edition January 2023
Earth Mother, 1966, poems by Armand Garnet Ruffo.
Earth Mother, 1966
He’s still using muted earth tones:
Brown, green, beige, a little red.
Unlike the work from his later technicolour period,
This one comes right out of the land,
As though he’s taken a hunting knife
and slit himself open,
and when it’s finished it frightens him.
Put your ear to the canvas, and you will hear the rising water.
What you see is a canoe afloat with passengers.
Nanaboozho – or maybe the artist trying to save himself-
a moose, a beaver, a bird, an otter
and, of course, a tiny muskrat,
who does what the others cannot
and dives to the bottom of the great lake
and brings up a tiny morsel of soil
the Creator uses to remake the world.
All these characters, because they are characters
in the grand scheme of the story,
however, pale to the thing they are floating on:
a monstrous fanged creature,
razor teeth, serpent eyes, forked tongue,
hackles, claws, fins, a hungry belly
stuffed with human flesh and spirit.
Is this the Mother Earth we dare trample on?
Indian Jesus Christ
Once again he is the blessed child
in the midst of adoration, exaltation:
Our Father Who Art in Heaven.
As his knees grind into the wood floor
and a throbbing ache moves up his legs
and drips off his upper lip,
into his cupped hands.
Staring up to the stained-glass Christ
above the priest and altar
he tries to focus on the one ray of light
filtering through halo and flame
like the divine spirit Himself
so that he might rise up to the rafters
and beyond into cool heaven.
The prayer for salvation never comes to pass.
Christ and his legion of angels
never once lift the roof off the chapel,
carry him in a chorus of hallelujahs.
Morrisseau is left to find his own wings
and he does, painting his own remembering,
his hands bursting into holy acrylic pain.
Chinese translation © Anna Yin/© Armand Garnet Ruffo
阿曼德·加内特·鲁弗是加拿大当代原居民文学和原居民文学学术的主要贡献者。著有《灰猫头鹰：阿奇-贝莱尼之谜》（1996/ 2021）《诺瓦尔-莫里索：人变雷霆鸟》 (2014), 《雷霆鸟诗集》 (2015) and 《条约#系列》 (2019)。两次入围总督文学奖，他荣获许多奖项， 包括2017年金斯顿市的首届市长艺术奖，2020年拉特纳作家信托诗歌奖。他目前是加拿大皇后大学的原居民文学国家学者。
Armand Garnet Ruffo is recognized as a major contributor to both contemporary Indigenous literature and Indigenous literary scholarship in Canada. His publications include Grey Owl: The Mystery of Archie Belaney (1996/ 2021); Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing Into Thunderbird (2014), The Thunderbird Poems (2015) and Treaty# (2019). A two-time finalist for Governor General’s Literary Awards, he is the recipient of numerous awards. In 2017, he was awarded the inaugural Mayor’s Arts Award from the City of Kingston, and in 2020, he was awarded the Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize. He is currently the Queen’s National Scholar in Indigenous Literatures at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
One Reply to “Armand Garnet Ruffo – Earth Mother, 1966”
I want to ask our readers to check more about Armand Garnet Ruffo and paintings by Norval Morrisseau.
The above two poems are from Dr. Ruffo’s books: Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing Into Thunderbird (2014) & The Thunderbird Poems (2015). I will translate more poems by Dr. Ruffo and also write poems about Norval Morrisseau as well.
We had a great discussion event on Dec 9, 2022, please check Poets & Painters-Arts in Translation: Armand Garnet Ruffo, Yan Li and Anna Yin on Dec 9, 2022 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0ROjGMl5eU