Friday, February 01, 2008

Poetry Friday/ Writer's Diary #41



I almost didn't post this. Not only is it an early draft (I'm definitely going to do something with the line breaks), but if misunderstood I'll be lynched. There may also be a lot of localism going on here, so I apologize up front if the some of the issues and references are unfamiliar, but feel free to ask questions.

Island Preservations

Newfies finds the Rock
slippery as sin. They slides off the sea
weed into Canada, and finds it right wicked
they got to spend $40 on a tub
of salt meat-- neverminding the fact
they can find it at all. And mispronounce
their province and bys o bys,
you’ll never get ‘em crankier than that.

Yes, I came to Baffin for the money.
But more than that. I wanted to
sleep in an igloo, dogsled, and perhaps
try some delicacies. But nevermind
the cached walrus. It stinks like sin.
And I’m sorry I’m not
an eskimo, but how am I supposed
to pronounce Nunavut?

8 comments:

TadMack said...

The sum total of what I know of Newfoundland and that whole part of the world I read in The Shipping News, so, no, I don't quite "get" this, but it's always interesting to see a poet in progress.

Chris said...

I can hear it in my head. I like it. Especially: "And mispronounce
their province and bys o bys,
you’ll never get ‘em crankier than that."

Karen E. said...

I don't get the localism either, but I do like the sound of it, and the way it evokes a time, place, and a character ....

Cloudscome said...

Ha! You had me looking up Nunavut just to find out what it is. Now I am twisting over "Nunavummiuq". I think I like the sound of it...

sheila said...

John, are you a Newfie? If you are, you should record your poem so everyone can hear that charming accent!

I'm living out here in Lotus Land! Right at the edge.

cheers / sheila

Carrie K said...

And I’m sorry I’m not
an eskimo, but how am I supposed
to pronounce Nunavut?
Incorrectly, presumably. Nothing cheers the locals more than outsiders mashing their place names.

I know nothing about the area other than The Shipping News and a secondhand tour (meaning I heard about it, not took it) but I do love the....territorialness of it.

Sara said...

Well, I don't know enough to either be offended or lynch you, so I'll just be enjoying the language here, bys o bys.

John Mutford said...

Tadmack: Oh no, The Shipping News. Story merits aside, it's not an accurate portrayal at all.

Chris: That's good to know that it resonated.

Karen: It's hard to judge if the localism is too much for an outsider to appreciate, so that's valuable feedback!

Cloudscome: Nunavut is home to me! Glad to keep you in the know.

Sheila: I am. But be forewarned, many from Newfoundland take offense to the term "Newfie" prefering instead to go by "Newfoundlander." I'm not one of those. However, I did use it with the negative connotations in mind. Just like "eskimos" prefer to be called "Inuit." As for me recording it, I married a girl from Ontario, so my accent has been pretty close to lost- so you really wouldn't get the effect.

Carrie: Most southerners pronounce it "None-of-it", while here it's closer to "Noon-a-voot" though "voot" isn't quite it either. Likewise, southerners call the capital Iqaluit "Ick-ala-wit" when it's closer to "Eek-ala-wheat".

Sara: Glad you enjoyed it! I meant it as a response to racism, both towards Newfoundlanders from Nunavummiut, and Nunavummiut from Newfoundlanders. Trying to get across that they have more in common than they realize.