War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele


artists, soldiers. we have a close relationship with chaos. the artist makes sense, reorders chaos. the soldier enters chaos, creates chaos. hopefully, and only in the best of scenarios, as in collective missions for that elusive thing called “good”, try to take chaos and reorder it. both artist and soldier fail and succeed.

the challenge. the great challenge, is to work with chaos then leave chaos behind. not absorb it. not bring it home. to move it out of us. through our actions. through our emotions. through our work especially as artists.

to thrive after chaos. is to be able to look back, see the good that has come. the light, even the smallest, that has been shone. but also to acknowledge shitshow. failure. learn from failure. try and find/make something of failure. something.

never give up.

I think of Romeo Dallaire. I met him once. he has picked himself up (as only ultimately we must/can with the help and grace of others). he has taken on a noble, dreamer’s cause. to see the end of using children as soldiers. Dallaire has taken something from chaos, the chaos of Rawanda. made something of it. and his eyes carry the weight of it. still, he gets up, ties his shoes, puts one foot in front of the other. moves.

a soldier contacted me recently. “[chaos] confusion…it is the spoils of our generation and its war.” he is suffering greatly.

and it is for this generation I’m writing my Afghan Requiem (premiere date 2012) for a major symphony and chorus. details TBA.

I was in Tofino last month. I went to Roy Henry Vicker’s art gallery. he is a well known Haida artist. at the gallery I was drawn to a jewelry case filled with Haida silver. I’m not a big jewelry wearer. never wore an engagement ring, a wedding ring, necklaces, earrings, not often, even though they meant a lot to me once.

but that day I had to try on a ring carved by a young Haida woman. it’s not a closed circle, it wraps around the finger. carved onto the ring at each end is Raven, the trickster and transformer. in Raven’s beak is the sun at one end, the moon at the other. or are they stars?

I bought the ring. I’ve never bought myself jewelry in my life. I had to have this ring made by a woman raising children alone, and who has stated outright, “I want to be the best native carver ever” I wear it on my inner finger of my right hand. it is there to remind me to try always to carry the light. even through my own personal darkness. even through chaos. to keep going. keep going.

“Suzanne, speak for the dead” a Padre told me. I wish I could.

“Suzanne, you speak for us” Sgt Maj says to me.

if only I could. but I can’t. the only one I can speak for, through the chaos of this war

is me.

About This Page

The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled chaos. It was posted here on April 22, 2011.


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