Tristan Martell is from Waterhen Lake First Nations Saskatchewan. He is Cree and Cambodian mix and identifies himself as Cree heritage. He is a B-boy (breakdancer), Powow Grassdancer, youth worker , and is a spiritual student of indigenous knowledge. He plans to continue his studies in theology, indigenous based healing and addictions counselor specifically for Native, Inuit, Metis youth.

Martell’s poems and artwork appear in Broken Arrow 2: Our Footprints: Journeys On The Red Road.

Artwork featured throughout the interviews originally appears in Broken Arrow 2: Our Footprints: Journeys On The Red Road

BCP: Why poetry?

TM: I grew up in Edmonton Alberta and Hiphop was the outlet for many friends that were struggling with various scenarios like identity , racism, classism, addiction. I was inspired on how they coped and had a great sense of humor on some of there tracks. Slam poetry is the cousin of rapping.

BCP: What is your process?

TM: I inspire on spiritual teachings that I’ve learned from elders, sages, indigenous healers, whatever the medicine needs to be said I clarify in a modern way.

BCP: How long have you been writing poetry?

TM: Writing poetry is a recent outlet within this year. You can say iam new reciting but not new to the experience of the culture. I have studied indigenous medicine teachings for 5 years now.

BCP: Who, or what, are your influences?

TM: Mahlikah Aweri from RedSlam collective (slam poetry) , Hawaiian elder Kahuna Sachitanada for teachings me how to be a great  Native Indian, Christian , Hindu, Buddhist, a true warrior of soul.  Indigenous art activist Tannis Nielsen for her passion to apply native sovereignty in her artwork. HIPHOP and the 4 elements (Bboying, Graffitti, Djing, Mcing) is the mother ship of influence for sure.

BCP: Your poetry is experimental. What do you try to convey to your readers?

TM: Pipe ceremonies was the recent one- I have had amazing teachings within the pipe ceremony. A lot has to do with teachings from my Cree culture about Spirit world and how it connects to the science of nature.

BCP: How long were you working on the poems that are featured in Broken Arrow?

TM: There is 2 of them so it took took 2 days to pick and choose the heart of the message. One was very much so about ceremonies, other one was very cartoony and inspired by the choose your own adventure books.

BCP: Was writing in a group helpful to you?

TM: It was a very fresh experience, it helped me connect to the ones that were studying around me.

BCP: You have visual art and poetry in Broken Arrow 2.  Does one art help with the other?

TM: The art that submitted was experimental. It shows a fragment of what I feel and the medicine I wanna share.

BCP: What advice do you have for other artists out there?

TM: Be real nows your time to share your medicine. I was told by my elder teacher everything you say impregnates the Universe. So mind how you go.  

Ryan Rainville is a vegan anarchist who was recently sentenced in relation to resisting the imperialist ambitions of the leaders of the G20 states.  

Rainville’s poem appears in Broken Arrow 2: Our Footprints: Journeys On The Red Road.

BCP: Why poetry?

RR: I’m not actually a poet. In class I had been asked to write a poem and had decided to give it a shot. It turns out it’d garnered more positive rapport then I’d anticipated.

BCP: What was your process?

RR: I felt that, given my anarchist convictions, precluding something intellectually stimulating which I had not previously participated in would be counter productive and so therefore felt that it couldn’t hurt to attempt to flex my creative capacities.

BCP: Who, or what, are your influences?

RR: Not specific to the realm of poetry, I am heavily influenced by the radical spirit of my mother, as well as my step-father who was a revolutionary guerrilla fighter opposing the imperialist imposed war that afflicted the state of El Salvador, at the behest of the U.S. and to a lesser extent Canada (read Yves Engler’s ‘black book of Canadian foreign policy’, for insight on how the Canadian navy had helped assist in a destabilization campaign directed against well known and well supported revolutionary Farabundo Marti). I am also influenced by my close comrade Trevor Sutherland, who is currently doing a bid held up at the West (in Toronto), for he helped me articulate my thoughts on my own experience within the walls of the KKKanadian gulags (referred to as prison).

In terms of more ubiquitous authors and figures within the global revolutionary (anti-capitlist/statist) movement, I really admire cats like Malcolm X, George Jackson, Nestor Makhno, Alexander Berkman, Ed Mead, Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Assata Shakur, Sundiata Acoli, Kuwasi Balagoon, Alprentice ‘Bunchy’ Carter, Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, David Gilbert, Roger Clement, Leah Henderson, Alex Hundert, Mandy Hiscocks, Eric Mcdavid, Marie Mason, Daniel Mcgowan, John Africa, and Oso Blanco (Byron Chubbuck). In terms of authors I have spent alot of time readin Noam Chomsky, Ward Churchill, Nestor Makhno, Andrea Smith, Edward Said, Norman Finkelstein, Kristian Williams, Mumia Abu Jamal, Ed Herman, and David Harvey.

BCP: You read more non-fiction than anything else. What are you reading now?

RR: Currently I am reading Agents of repression (Churchill), Outlaws of America (on the history of the Weather Underground) and Creating A Movement With Teeth (a historiography of the George Jackson Brigade).

BCP: Can you provide a recommended anarchist reading list for people? Anarchist poetry, perhaps?

RR: Certainly:

What is Anarchism (Berkman)

Mutual Aid (Kropotkin)

Accumulation of freedom (Nocella)

Anarchy’s Cossack (Skirda)

Nestor Makhno’s memoirs

No gods no masters (Guerin)

History of Anarchism volumes 1 and 2 (Graham)

BCP: Your poetry is very political. What do you try to convey to your readers?

RR: In this poem specifically my messaging is fairly clear. I want to demonstrate that the capitalist interests that propagate media coverage in Canada portray freedom fighting in another territory as being liberatory or justified, meanwhile portraying a comparable response to repression at ‘home’ as being mindless vandalism and an assault on ‘freedom’; a freedom which does not exist as is fed to the vast majority of the canadian states population. Living under the constraints of a representational democracy I have learned that the purpose of democracy is not to assign equal rights to every being (humyn or non-humyn animal), but rather to convince the population to consent to participation within our own subjugation and oppression within the system. That is what democracy looks like; we live in it.

BCP: Poetry is not seen in political spaces as much as it should. Why do you think that is? Would you consider reading your poem at a rally in future?

RR: I would say that radical poetry is fairly ubiquitous to those who seek it and that, although I feel it’d be great to have it ‘better’ represented, at least there is a solid base (from where I stand) preventing that which is radicalized from becoming co-opted and liberalized. And if I were asked to I surely would, however I am not one who enjoys the spotlight. So therefore I wouldn’t go out of my way to make myself heard at a rally.

BCP: How long were you working on the poem featured in Broken Arrow 2?

RR: I wrote it on the spot.

BCP: Was writing in a group helpful to you?

RR: It did offer a sense of inclusion and community, which is great, and also offered a substantiative motivation to participate. So I would say yes.

BCP: What advice do you have for other political artists out there?

RR: To say ‘political’ in a general and abstract sense would be to incorporate opposing view points into one amorphous sphere. So what I would say is that any one who seeks to total liberation of humyn and non-humyn anaimal life, and the planet, the abolition of the patriarchal state structure, the abolition of institutionalized white supremacy, and who believes another world is possible should get involved in local struggles relevant to, not only where they live, but  the struggle against state-capitalist oppression as a whole. Anti-poverty work is fairly common and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) does a wonderful job of bringing this to the light. Furthermore, engaging in anti-white supremacy resistance, such as that exemplified by the Anti Racist Action (ARA) and the Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) networks, I would also recommend. Labor intensive reading helped, however if you prefer, there exist a plethora of audio books on the net in which one could find themselves wrapped. Anything from Co-opertaive organic food shares, to opposing police and military violence through various awareness campaigns, I believe, are necessary. Also supporting local war resisters, who have chosen to defect from the physical manifestations of white supremacist colonial imperialism, is necessary and definitely commendable. Supporting struggles from Palestine, to Chiapas (the EZLN), and resistance movements across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia (to white supremacist colonial subjugation), are also fundamentally important. I would like to finish up by saying that No one is illegal and fuck prisons, borders and law and order!!!!

Existence is resistance!

Tune into Friday December 16, 2011 for videos of Tristan Martell and Ryan Rainville reading their poems.


About Black Coffee Poet

Black Coffee Poet is a mixed race poet, essayist, and journalist who focuses on Social Justice, Indigenous Rights, STOPPING Violence Against Women, Film, and Literature.
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