Tuesday, August 3, 2010
'Tekahionwake': E. Pauline Johnson, Native Canadian Poet and Entertainer
At the age of 31 rather than marry and have children, 'Tekahionwake' toured Canada, New England, and parts of England. She gave recitations of her poetry, performed comedy routines and staged plays. Even her performances reflected her 'double life' as she would often begin them wearing a ball gown, and end them in Native dress. Johnson was the first Native poet to have her work published in Canada. She was also one of the few female writers of the period who made a living from her written and performance work.
I stow the sail, unship the mast:
I wooed you long but my wooing's past;
My paddle will lull you into rest.
O! drowsy wind of the drowsy west,
By your mountain steep,
Or down where the prairie grasses sweep!
Now fold in slumber your laggard wings,
For soft is the song my paddle sings.
The Pauline Johnson Archive, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario
Brant, Beth. Writing as Witness: Essays and Talk. Toronto: Women's Press, 1994.
Photographs Copyright: National Archives Canada; J. Geraghty-Gorman; Vancouver Ventures: J. Geraghty-Gorman