Empathic Poetry Café curated by January Rogers
Saturday 10 September 6pm — The Film House at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
Remembering and Reminding
In the 2022 Celebration of Nations Empathic Poetry Café, we are honoured to present an all-male identifying group of poets, spoken word artists, and storytellers. The theme, Remembering and Reminding, is a broad one which references the multi-faceted and overlapping creative expressions which have a very important job to do; perpetuate Indigenous culture. And with this lineup of Creatives, we will bear witness to the perpetuation of Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabek Nation cultures specifically. In a celebration of male voices, the 2022 Empathic Poetry Café will host a circle encompassing tradition, innovation and living creative practices to form a well-rounded reflection of our nations’ cultural obligations and passions. Through our collective Indigenous histories, we remember. And with our commitment to growing our artistic expressions, we are reminding. Remembering and Reminding are action words, embodied by the presenters at the 2022 Empathic Poetry Café. — Curator January Rogers
Curator January Rogers is a Mohawk/Tuscarora poet, media producer, and performance artist. She lives on her home territory of Six Nations of the Grand River where she operates the small publishing press, Ojistoh Publishing. January combines her literary talents with her passion for media making to produce audio and video poetry. Her video poem Ego of a Nation won Best Music Video at the American Indian International Film Festival 2020 and her audio work The Battle Within won Best Experimental Audio with imagineNATIVE Film and Media Festival 2021. She begins a term as Western University’s Writer in Residence 2022/23.
Host Karl Dockstader is an Oneida Nation Bear Clan citizen, is a recipient of the 2020 Celebration of Nations Outstanding Achievement Award in Language and Culture. Karl is the host of the contemporary Indigenous issues focused One Dish, One Mic Radio show in Niagara and is a proud lifelong advocate for issues that affect urban Indigenous peoples.
Hyendegwas Tyrell King
Hyendegwas, which means “Gathering Wood” in the Cayuga language, is the “govy” or government name of Tyrell King. Tyrell is Bear Clan from Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. He is Mississauga Anishinaabe and also Haudenosaunee from the Cayuga and Mohawk Nations and is 22 years old. Artistic statement from Tyrell:
Ever since I can remember, I have always been naturally attracted and drawn to the art of speech (especially with rhyming schemes), whether it was nursery rhymes, music, intriguing dialogue from television and movies, and even just hearing people use big, unfamiliar words and learning how to say them myself. It all appealed to me and I would listen to what was being vocalized. Like many children, this was my first form of poetry. I listened to and fell in love with the talented works of legendary author, Dr. Seuss, who initially inspired me to write my own poetry as a child, which was always written with rhyming words. I also loved writing in elementary school and excelled when it came to writing speeches and reciting them publicly in front of my classmates, my entire school, and sometimes at a regional speech competition in Haldimand County, Ontario. The first spoken-word poet I had ever heard and listened to was Suli Breaks, who wrote and performed an incredible, influential piece entitled, “I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate.” I was in grade 8 at the time and it blew my mind and helped me expand my thinking by being one with my mind and exploring my thoughts. Sadly, throughout high school, I lost touch with my artistic and creative roots, but thankfully, I reconnected with them when I was 19 years old. I started creating my own fictional universes with characters to inhabit said universes; this was the birth of my biggest aspiration: to launch and publish my own comic books and graphic novels. Shortly after creating these characters and worlds, I began writing from the perspective of my characters in the form of poetry, and what followed afterwards was writing to express my own thoughts and emotions as a person. Like all artists of all mediums, I teetered between doubt and confidence, dictating the worthiness of my art, and if it should be released online, but at the end of the day, I love my craft and refuse to waste the passion I have for art. Many of my role models and inspirations are musicians such as, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Eminem, 2Pac, Kurt Cobain, and of course, the one and only, MR. SAUGA (Jordan Jamieson). These musical icons help me understand my identity and the kind of person I want to be. As of today, I am proud to say I have grown exponentially as both a person and an artist, and I have huge ambitious visions of helping people be heard and understood through the words I write and perform. Some of my preferred topics to write about include mental health, grief and heartbreak, poetic motivation, racial and social injustice, nostalgic and feel-good pieces, and fictional stories.
Tehakanere is Wolf Clan Haudenosaunee born and raised on the Six Nations of the Grand River territory. Tehakanere studied some basic language as it was offered on the territory and completed high school in Brantford. From there, he went on to complete a business degree at Brock with honors and received the Spirit of Brock Medal upon graduating. He served as Youth Program Coordinator with the Southern Ontario Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative (SOADI) for three years, building community awareness and engagement opportunities with the help of many talented Indigenous artists for various Indigenous communities through Hip-hop, and other various forms of expression.
Tehakanere then decided to commit his time and energy into language, beginning his journey with the Onkwawenna Kentyohkwa (The Mohawk Language Adult Immersion School in Six Nations) program offered at GREAT (Grand River Employment and Training). He was able to fully immerse himself in the three-year program, even dedicating his spare time to sitting with elders and knowledge keepers to enhance his language skills. During this time, he also offered language classes to community members as a means to increase his teaching ability, while offering free language lessons to anyone interested in learning. Tehakanere worked tirelessly to revitalize cultural stories only known by certain elders and knowledge keepers so that he may share them with the community. After graduating from the Onkwawenna Kentyohkwa program, he began teaching students of all ages within the Six Nations community and beyond. He has taught Mohawk language at high schools, community centers, as well as private institutions. He currently teaches full-time at Six Nations Polytechnic and part-time at Brock University.
Tehakanere possesses a love for learning as much as he can about Haudenosaunee people, history, culture, and language as they intersect with one another. He is committed to a life-long journey of language learning and cultural revitalization.
Chief R. Stacey Laforme is the elected Chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN). Born and raised on the Credit First Nation, Chief Laforme has served his community for over twenty years, being first elected to council in 1999. Chief Laforme has participated in a number of committees and boards throughout his seven terms served as a councillor, including involvement with the MCFN’s Pan Am Games Secretariat as Chair of the Committee. Chief Laforme is committed to increasing involvement and communication between Elected Council and both on- and off-reserve membership. He is very active throughout MCFN’s Treaty Lands and Territory, which encompasses 3.9 million acres of Southern Ontario, not only as a Chief, but as a notable storyteller, poet, and published author. Chief Laforme has recently been appointed as honorary senior fellow for Massey College, joining the Duke of Edinburg and the Chancellor of Oxford as only the third person awarded the highest honor the college can bestow. In 2018, De dwa da dehs nye (Aboriginal Health Centre) awarded Chief Laforme the Walter Cooke Wisdom Keeper Award in recognition of one’s capacity to exemplify significant and continuous service to our community by demonstrating integrity, generosity of spirit, humility, courage, collaboration, “The Good Mind”, and traditional ways of knowing and being.
Tehakanere Henhawk, Hyendegwas Tyrell King, Chief R. Stacey Laforme, Karl Dockstader