CBC Literary Prizes

First Days in Residential School by Richard Behn

Richard Behn has made the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for First Days in Residential School.

2017 CBC Poetry Prize longlist

Richard Behn, Eh Cho Dene is a poet from Fort Nelson, B.C. (Richard Behn)

Richard Behn has made the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for First Days in Residential School.

About Richard

Richard Behn, Eh Cho Dene is from Fort Nelson, B.C. He recently completed the Indigenous Studies Program at Camosun College, Victoria. Richard spent seven years in Catholic-run Lower Post Indian Residential School and Coudert Residence in Whitehorse. His life experiences included his early training in the traditional vocation of living on the land to working in the petroleum industry and Aboriginal politics and program administration. Based on restrictive government policies and the belief that the Creator provided natural resources need protection, he now directs his energies to promoting healthy sustainable living for all, predicated on a true reconciliation with non-Indigenous Canadians.

Entry in five-ish words

Life, looking, learning, living, leading

The poem's source of inspiration

"The clarity of my experience as seen in the light of the dismemberment of Indigenous communities and families."

First lines 

On the third day … after his last supper … of innocence
A child hangs … erect but somewhat a kilter
Beyond his true height … toes caressing cement
His right ear … a tender spot … stretched
Twisted to its maximum … clamped to meanly
by a female foreigner forager … clad in black
a furious face framed in white forced fear
from his every cell … my sisters march by
Confused as I … his life line cut
Clean beyond his knowing … captive … CAPTIVE

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