My First Month Of The End Of The World: January 2012
By Jorge Antonio Vallejos
It’s a gray day and my T.V has a dark show on: The First 48. I have no idea why I watch it. It’s always Browns and Blacks being hauled off to jail for life! That’s our sad, messed up, racist world that supports the prison industrial complex and the incarceration of Indigenous peoples and peoples of colour.
A harsh cold has put me out for the last 6 days. Sleep, ache, and lots of used tissue paper have consumed much of my time, as has T.V. Throughout the sickness I still had to update my site, read, interview people for other publications I write for, and work on setting things up for my special week on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in the land now known as Canada.
It’s been tough.
I’m still sick.
I reminded myself of an article I wrote a while back: Pushing Through. And I told myself a showbiz saying, “The show must go on!” I also thought of how my mom, a woman of colour, who supported me on her own, went to work sick many, many days when I was growing up.
2012 started off well, no signs of the end to come but just in case I took the first week off and started the new-year with a bang: Sufi poet Doyali Islam was the feature in week 1. Her book Yusuf and the Lotus Flower was a pleasure to read and review. So was meeting Doyali who is a very kind and humble poet; I wish they were all like her.
Screams bellow from my T.V.
A parent is informed of the loss of their child; a common scene on The First 48.
“Sorry for your loss, sir,” says a white cop.
Week 2 saw me feature Ojibwe poet David Groulx. I met David at the IFOA (International Festival of the Authors) in Toronto in November 2011. We hung out, talked writing, politrix, skin privilege, and all sorts of stuff. Three weeks later his books A Difficult Beauty and Rising With A Distant Dawn came in the mail from different publishers. I read both with extreme pleasure: one in my bed and the other at a coffee shop. I have Groulx’s first book, The Long Dance, waiting to be read in one of my many stacks of books.
The response to Groulx’s review and interview were great. One reader emailed me saying she got the book for Christmas and was now very excited to read it. Another reader wrote to say they reserved it from their school library. Reader after reader wrote to say they loved Groulx’s review, interview, and video.
Jose Ventura and Henri Orantes, both Brown, both ‘illegal’, are arrested.
“Two down, one to go,” says a cop.
Browns and Blacks are just numbers.
Week 3 saw Toronto poet Jim Nason be reviewed and interviewed. I found his amazing book, Narcisuss Unfolding, in a bin outside a used bookshop just off of Yonge St. It was brand new: no rips, folds, or scratches. And it cost a whopping $1! I snatched it up quick after reading the table of contents, and a poem or two. Plus, I remember poet Maureen Hynes talking about him and his work: “Good poet,” she said over coffee.
Nason’s poems had me thinking of things I experienced like slipping on black ice in a laneway. He writes of the ordinary things in life like visiting a café, having stacks of books, conversations with a doorman at a hotel. There were no pretentious poems in Nason’s collection; the title was fitting.
Javier Vasquez, Brown guy number 3, is hunted down and taken in.
I met with budding poet Whitney French in the third week of January. We had coffee and tea and laughed about many things in the literary life. She gave me a copy of her new self-published collection Three Cities. I’m excited to read it; it’s next week’s feature.
Anishinabek News accepted my pitch to interview a couple, Leslie and Lindy, for a Valentines story. While interviewing this beautiful couple I thought of how good a relationship can be with the right person. More good thoughts came to mind when interviewing Cree NDP candidate Romeo Saganash for XTRA!. The journalism gigs were good in January.
It was an hounour when ANDPVA (The Association for Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts) proposed to feature me as one of their readers for their Writers Room reading series. The open mic was dedicated to raising money for, and bringing awareness to, the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada which is something close to my heart. Several women, including Nicole Tanguay and Faith Nolan, read poetry, letters, and they sang; it was beautiful. The evening ended with me reading alongside living legend Duke Redbird which was a HUGE for me. That was a highpoint for me this month.
On the last Sunday of the month I met with Jim Nason to interview him for XTRA!. I liked our first meeting a lot. Our second encounter had me inspired. With me my laptop in front of us recording our interview Nason shared intimate stories, ideas about craft, and his process as a writer.
As Jim talked I was thinking, This man is a writer!
For the last 15 years Jim has woken up at 5:45 am to write for two hours. He loves to write. Some nights his husband has to tell him, “Go to sleep!”, because he is so excited to get out of bed to write. “I’m willing to give it all up for writing,” said Jim.
The first month of 2012 has been a big wow with lots of what I usually do, hustle. People always ask what I’ve been up to. I’m surprised their not tired of my answer: reading and writing. That’s what will see the next 11 months of 2012 for me.
There was so much hype around this year and it’s supposed end of everything. I’m Brown so I didn’t believe the white media’s interpretation of the Mayan calendar and prophecy. Brown people have been here for thousands of years. We’re still here. We’re still fighting. We’re still pushing through the walls, fences, and cells set up for us.
Ventura, Orantes, and Vasquez are sentenced to life.