Tuesday, April 12, 2016

J is for Pauline Johnson

My theme this year is the ABCEDARIA of Women who have inspired me.

J is for Pauline Johnson - famous Canadian poet.
Tekahionwake ca 1895.jpg

Emily Pauline Johnson (also known in Mohawk as Tekahionwake –pronounced: dageh-eeon-wageh, literally: 'double-life')[1] (10 March 1861 – 7 March 1913), commonly known as E. Pauline Johnson or just Pauline Johnson, was a Canadian writer and performer popular in the late 19th century. Johnson was notable for her poems and performances that celebrated her Aboriginal heritage; her father was a hereditary Mohawk chief of mixed ancestry. She also drew from English influences, as her mother was an English immigrant. One such poem is the frequently anthologized "The Song My Paddle Sings". (Wikipedia)
Why does Pauline Johnson inspire me? Truthfully - it isn't her poetry. I don't like her poetry - it might be just the time it is from but it doesn't move me a bit. But her life? Yes, that inspires me. Born to a Mohawk chief and a rather lauded English woman - her childhood was very interesting. She was called Tekahionwake because she did lead a double-life. She was considered Indian by the whites and white by the Mohawks but she persevered in her dreams. She was known more for her performances than her poems - how she spoke and stood, what she wore - her grace and dignity. In those years around the century mark, those who wrote and gave 'recitations' were the rock stars of their day. And she was well up there. She played on the popularity of "Native life" by wearing Mohawk clothes for the first half of her performance and then changing into Victorian dress for the second half. I like her spunk and fire!

Is there anyone who you admire but maybe not for the reasons they might wish?


Anonymous said...

What a fascinating background she had, Jan! Living in two worlds must have been difficult for her, but I can see how she inspires you.

Susan Scott said...

Yikes that's amazing - I can imagine her on stage - changing - from one to the other! If I start wondering about who I admire in spite of, I'll spend all afternoon on this ... maybe one of our opposition leaders here in SA - a firebrand for sure and a bit dodgy, but he speaks to truth! A woman? I'll let you know - although already I think of her .. a very sad breakup of a friendship -