Little “White” LiesPosted: 2013/04/21
Little “White” Lies by Poet and IFLAC Peace Ambassador in Canada, Celine Leduc, is a series of poems that deal with “I and the other” and show that the “little” lies are anything but little. Celine says it took her 20 years of soul searching and thinking to write the poems – now finally out and available at Anancy eBooks.
In her review below, Ada Aharoni calls the poems “poignant protest poems.”
LITTLE “WHITE” LIES
By Celine Leduc
Reviewed by Dr. Ada Aharoni
Little “White” Lies by Celine Leduc, is a courageous book of poignant protest poems. In powerful poem after poem, Celine points out blatant wrongs in our society, that are hypocritically considered as merely “little” but are in reality huge and profound. Only if we see them as what they really are, can we repair them, for the good of society and the benefit of humankind.
The ways these lies and wrongs are formulated starts by numbering, as demonstrated in the first poem of this collection: The Number’s Game, where the poet reminds us of the climax atrocity of numbering human beings:
In Nazi concentration camps
People were but numbers
Numbers tattooed on their skin!
In the authentic poem Drive By Shooting – Justice/Injustice, Celine describes and decries forcefully the irony of murderers becoming and made national heroes, as in the case of the killing of the Indians and stealing of their land:
Champlain laughs he is on a drunken high as he boasts:
“I killed the blood thirsty, Iroquois”
A mythical war hero, he becomes, immortalized by his peers:
In books, statues, streets, cities, bridges and lakes bare his name!
No justice for the victims. No trial for the perpetrator.
The same happened with Billy the Kid, who widely distributed chicken – pox infected blankets to the Indians, who were infected by them and died. The result was that he is considered today an “Indian Hero”, and has a Museum to his name, as well as a great Statue! What a historical injustice that has not been repaired to this day!
In another poem about Indians, whom Celine was taught to consider “devils”, an Indian woman tells her that they are really the “First Nation”, as they were the first to inhabit the land of America, before the English landed with their ship the Mayflower. Celine sympathizes with her and responds in beautiful lines:
You tell me you are First Nation….
I feel your love for the earth.
I feel your love for the sanctity of life.
I visited with the Devil and found the CREATORS.
All her prejudices that Indians were “devils” are swooped away, and instead of devils, she finds in them lovers of the earth and of nature, and the real “creators” of the land.
The poem Mixed Blood – Great White Father points out to another kind of blatant systematic racist injustice based on ethnicity:
Native man marries white the child is native
Native woman marries white the child is white – WHY?
She tells us in another one of her beautiful women poems:
Eve not Atlas carries the world!
And as it is so, women she maintains, should have not only full equality but also full parity. They should be visible and lead society equally with the men. In her poem The Invisible Woman, there is a drastic change in man when he at length listens to woman and sees her as she really is:
A miracle occurs, you hear her voice, and you see her face.
You smile she smiles back, she talks you listen.
She tells you: I am woman, I am a leader, and I am a mother.
I am the keeper of the earth. To you, she is no longer invisible.
As a child, she plays with her neighbor, a boy her age and they both fully enjoy playing together, but her father drives the boy away, for the sole reason that:
He is Black and I am White.
She feels the full injustice of this racist attitude, and it hurts her as a child and as an adult.
Celine also condemns war as a concept and as it is practiced. War only brings destruction and disaster to women, children and to the men themselves. In her poem Polygamy, she forcibly decries the evils of war:
The men as men created the mess.
Men’s deeds were cursed. The curse was war.
Men kill! Women procreate!
And in the poem Sitting Duck, she points out to the futility of the military arrangements and order that only bring fear to the “Sitting Duck”, who is really all of us:
Forts are built, roll call, round the clock.
Garrisons sit inside, soldiers are the cavalry
Circle the walls, learn to shoot.
Follow orders; sit in wait, as the cavalry.
Sit in wait fearing an attack. Where is Sitting Duck?
Fear of violence of the preparations for war makes us all sitting ducks:
Sit and duck the bullets fly
Sit and duck, the cannon balls fly.
Celine has confidence in the power of words, and she tells us her firm belief that:
“The bridge to peace is made of words.”
This is the central message of IFLAC: The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace, and Celine, who is the IFLAC Peace Ambassador in Canada, has full confidence in its vision and its strength.
Divulging the origins of the “little white lies” is the truth of the poet. Celine succeeds not only to describe those lies but also to condemn them through her powerful poems and words, so that Society can rid itself of those lies and wrongs. This is the inner and central strength of this beautiful and important book.