City In Focus News

Political activism through prose: Halifax women show off their "magic"

(Photo: Kristen Thompson)
(Photo: Kristen Thompson)

“We are unstoppable; another world is possible.”
The drums of Rad Rhythms were in sync with the heartbeat of Mother Earth. Each activist’s heartbeat quickened and matched pace. The crowd was exhilarated and ready to take action, standing in solidarity with their U.S. brothers and sisters.
Over one million marchers around the world proved that the 45th president of the U.S. could never take away their rights: their voices too loud and too fierce to be ignored. When Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a nasty woman, the public retaliated, and created the “nasty women campaign.”
“We are unstoppable; another world is possible.”
The crowd echoed as they held their posters high; some blocked their face, embracing that they had, for a moment, morphed with their cause.
Women. Men. Children: all taking their places around Halifax City Hall. A flood of different needs, all with the same root: finding a glimmer of hope in the otherwise hopeless.
Some are chanting for access to their own bodies, others, for the freedom of animals. I look to my right and see a vertical Canadian flag draped on a poster with the words, “We have work to do,” slapped on the front. Acknowledging that Canada too was taking a stand.
The protest began, setting the word “peace” as the intention. Peace is responded with peace.
Mi’kmaq Elder Marlene Companion & Grandmother Carla Silver cleansed the Parade Square with a smudging ceremony, Grandmother Carla rubbed tears from her eyes; she said, “Whatever your belief is, share with your brother and sister.” Her voice boomed over the drum, the beat paired with the trampling feet of a verse; poetry was the driving force at the women’s rally.
The 10 speakers chosen followed suit and shared their individual cause with the crowd, using the power of prose to address common issues and to stand together.
“Poetry can move us from where we are to where we could be,” says poet El Jones.
Jones performs, addressing the survival of women, saying that female power goes beyond an office leader: women are survivors and always have been.
“We are femmes, butches, trans, lesbians, women and women identified 
We are standing here with pride
And still we rise, still we rise, still we rise.”

An uproar from like-minded people flooded the land and quickly fell silent when the bell tolled, revealing 2 p.m. and the words of current Halifax poet laureate, Rebecca Thomas.
“Do you feel it?” She asked.
“The magic that is right now.”
Thomas’ poem mirrored Jones’, empowering women and telling them that their magic is unstoppable. Despite society’s efforts at dulling that magic, telling women how to behave, Thomas challenges the patriarchy. She “doesn’t believe in traditional roles set out for her.”
“My magic fortified by yours and theirs
Made me believe that I could be anything.
So without further ado world, here I am.”
You could feel everyone’s magic flicker as they craved for more warmth from the ignited flame.
Then appeared Masuma Khan with a burning passion, speaking for one community living in unity, bringing a cultural spin on women’s rights.
She rhymes for a world where she’s “not questioned for every word” or seen as a token, a terrorist, or extremist. The Dalhousie student believes in a world where educated doesn’t mean “in debt.”
Khan’s powerful words boom, asking the world “gently,” and challenging those in front of her.
“I dare you to tell me to go back.
This isn’t your land either.
Go check white man’s geography.
There’s enough blood to drown in.
And I’m drownin’.”
Political activism shone through the poetry movement and reminded Halifax of the power of the inauguration poem, or lack thereof.
“Poetry is at the root of all political activism,” says El Jones. It’s not about changing the language but rather using poetry to form solutions.
The audience reacted by throwing arms around the stranger next to them. The majority held hands and embraced that there were no strangers in the crowd today. Poetry turned to song and the rally group swayed, linked together, and chimed in to sing: “Lean on me” and “All you need is love.”
I almost wanted to thank president Trump.
Despite his attempt at division, the sister marches proved their collective strength.

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