“I’m haunted by how much of our culture and how many of our stories and people were stolen. My poetry attempts to create meaning and beauty from heartbreak and loss.”
I’m an Urban First Nation’s person. I’m constantly an outsider. This perspective has shaped the stories I tell and write and songs that I sing. I grew up in urban centers feeling Indian and loving Indian, but not having a constant connection with others who share spiritual practices. Most of my work is not culturally specific. The cultural references are general to being “Indian,” as opposed to a specific First Nation. My work is usually set in Toronto or some generalized city, town, or reserve. I find myself fascinated by stories and songs about marginalized people
Poetics is a life-long endeavour. Each project has been challenging, heartbreaking, and elating; and has given me the opportunity to challenge myself to take on a new aspect of poetry. I write about what scares and embarrasses me. I explore pain and what I’m ashamed of; and I go there with love.
Things are bad; but everything’s going to turn out alright after all. I’m haunted by how much of our culture and how many of our stories and people were stolen. My poetry attempts to create meaning and beauty from heartbreak and loss. Stylistically, I steal from different mediums and moments in my life to create new myths. The time we spend together in our brief walk on earth is sacred, and worth telling stories and singing songs about.
Cliff Cardinal is an actor, writer and singer from Pine Ridge working in Toronto.