Biden’s Ireland Visit/ Poet Laureate For North Dakota Named – Poetry News Roundup April 10th

Today on My Poetic Side, we look at President Biden’s visit to Ireland and the appointment of an Ojibwe woman poet laureate in North Dakota.

President Joe Biden is proud of his Irish Catholic heritage, and it is likely to be on full display during his trip to Ireland this week. Whilst the trip is a presidential one, there are certainly likely to be personal elements as he wants to visit some of the counties where he has family ties.

As he is known for quoting poetry, in particular the poems of a number of Irish poets there is also a very good chance that the trip will see plenty of quotes from him along the way. Biden has often said that poetry is what helped him overcome his stammer and help him speak in public. He often quotes lines from poetry by William Butler Yeats and Seamus Heaney in some of his big speeches.

In fact, so well known is his love of poetry that his former presidential speech writer says sometimes he was specifically asked to include stanzas of poetry when writing a speech. When this wasn’t requested, the president would often just throw a couple of lines in from memory.

One of the lines he has quoted the most if from “Easter, 1916” by WB Yeats

“All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born,”

The line might be inspired by Ireland’s failed uprising in the fight for independence from Great Britain, but it can so easily be used to refer to a great many other things.

North Dakota Appoints Ojibwe Woman Poet Laureate

Denise Lajimodiere, an Ojibwe woman has been appointed to the position of poet laureate by lawmakers in North Dakota. She is the first Native American to be appointed to the position within the state. A citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band, which is in Belcourt, Lajimodiere has penned several award winning collections of poetry. She is also a national expert on the subject of Native American boarding schools and is the author of “Stringing Rosaries” which was published in 2019 and looked at the atrocities that were experienced by those who survived boarding schools in the country.

From the 18th century until the late 1960s there were networks of boarding school. Some of these institutionalised the kidnapping, abuse and then the forced cultural assimilation of a significant number of Indigenous children in the entire area of North America. Much of the work that Lajimodiere has done has been looking at the traumas that were endured by the Native people of the region.

Lajimodiere will serve a 2 year term, during which she will represent the state through a series of inaugural speeches, poetry readings, commencements and educational events. An educator, Lajimodiere has a doctorate degree from the University of North Dakota and is hoping to use her role to host some workshops for Native students all over the state. She is also looking at creating a book that will focus on these students.

Her appointment to the  position is an important one which it is hoped will inspire representation on a number of levels and help the Native American community.


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