December 08, 2012

Inuit poet speaks at college

Inuit Poet dg nanouk okpik comes full circle at SKC

By Lailani UphamRays of light shine from her eyes, and her smile remains fixed with a beam of happiness that is felt across a room. Next, her airy, sweet, voice touches the hearts of each listener as the words of her poems are pictured in the minds of those assembled in a dimly lit theatre on the Salish Kootenai College campus last Wednesday afternoon.

Inuit poet and Institute of American Indian Arts instructor, dg nanouk okpik, captured a fairly large audience with readings from her newest book, “Corpse Whale.”

“I feel so grounded and so at home here,” she said as she opened up to the eager listeners.

Okpik attended SKC over 15 years ago and said she found a home away from home. She described feeling adrift when she first arrived on the campus of SKC. However, the SKC ambiance did not take long to help her find her calling.

Her first class was in Corky Clairmont’s, “Native American Images in Film.”

“It woke me up in such a way that I felt I had to finish college–and share my voice.” Her voice was her creative writings.

She said it was in that class she saw the images of Native Americans in the early years of film making that Native peoples were portrayed completely wrong.

She felt her gift of writing could be used to do what she knew she could do portray who her (tribal) people really are.
Comment:  A couple things worth noting here:

1) That the Inuit poet didn't think about Native stereotypes until she saw them in a college class. And then she opposed them.

2) That there are Inuit poets who are college-educated and return to their alma maters to speak. <g>

For more on Inuit artists, see Inuit Sculptor at NMAI and Artcirq Performs at Queen's Jubilee.

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