Randy Lundy is Cree, Norwegian, and Irish and is a member of the Barren Lands First Nation. He was born in the mining community of Thompson, MB, and grew up in the logging community of Hudson Bay, SK.
Randy has published four books of poetry, most recently Blackbird Song (2018) and Field Notes for the Self (2020) with the University of Regina Press, where he currently serves as editor for the Oskana Poetry and Poetics series.
He recently joined the English Department at University of Toronto, Scarborough, following the University's TRC-response search in Creative Writing, Indigenous Literatures, and Oral Traditions.
I didn't read poems in high school, other than what was assigned in English class. We had a big, thick text called 'A Book of Good Poems' or 'Good Book of Poems,' or somethig like that. It had a dull, orange cover, if that helps! About the only poetry I remember from that time is the nature sonnets of Archibald Lampman, a Canadian Confederation poet. He wrote about birds and trees and the sky, etc., and strangely enough, those are the things I tend to write about as well, all these years later. While I haven't read him much since those days, I just Googled 'Archibaldd Lampman poems', and re-read 'Evening,' a sonnet that on re-reading is familiar to me. That final sentence still resonates strongly inside me: "One by one / Shine out the stars, and the great night comes on." Light and darkness: two things that continually appear in my writing, as well.
Again, I remember writing poems as assigned in grade school--for Remembrance Day contests and such. But I started writing poems on my own, without anyone telling me I should do it, as a teenager, spurred on by all the confusion of horomones and emotions that is involved in being a teen! I was constantly heart-broken, lonely, often bored, and generally disgruntled with the world. Typical teen-aged stuff. So, I started in my mid-teens and the just never stopped, kept on through university and into adulthood. However, I still don't really think of myself as a poet. I write poems sometimes. So, it's something I do, rather than something I am. It's a verb, not a noun.
To reach in and touch the spirit of the reader? Chuckle. I really don't have a good answer to the question. Really, if you write a poem, your job is to make it the best poem it can be, in whatever form or style it is. I remember the editor of my first book, renowned Canadian poet Patrick Lane, telling me once "This isn't about you, and it's not about me, Randy, It's about the poem. The poem is what matters. You have to make it the best poem it can be." That's always stuck with me. Part of the instruction there is to set aside one's own ego, get the heck out of the way, and recognise something more important than your self. I've read a lot of Buddhist phiosophy since then, and Patrick's advice is in keeping, I think, with much Buddhist thinking. Getting past that self that obscures so much of our seeing.
The Cactus came about from just wandering around southern Saskatchewan, walking about. The place named in the poem is Buffalo Pound Lake, which is an area of Provincial Park, but the poem likely arose from wanderig there and various other places. It's a pome about inner sight, which for me, is not other than or seperate from outer sight--looking outward and inward go together. And it think it reflects on or think about how the world of plants and such do what they do, live and die as part of a cycle of which human beings are pat too, but too often forget, ignore, and deny. There seems to be a bit of a longing for or search for some peace in the poem, and it turns the reader toward a certain landscape on that search. Seems like maybe there's something in there about writing or creative practice, as well, that desire to create.