i am graffiti

i am writing to tell you

that yes, indeed,

we have noticed

you have a new big pink eraser

we are well aware

you are trying to use it.

erasing indians is a good idea

of course

the bleeding-heart liberals

and communists

can stop feeling bad

for the stealing

and raping

and murdering

and we can all move on

we can be reconciled

except, i am graffiti.

except, mistakes were made.

she painted three white Xs

on the wall of the grocery store.

one. two. three.

then they were erased.

except, i am graffiti.

except, mistakes were made.

the Xs were made out of milk

because they took our food.

one. two. three.

then we were erased.

except, i am graffiti.

except, mistakes were made.

we are the singing remnants

left over after

the bomb went off in slow motion

over a century instead of a fractionated second

it’s too much to process, so we make things instead

we are the singing remnants

left over after

the costumes have been made

collected up

put in a plastic bag, full of intentions

for another time

another project.

except, i am graffiti.

and mistakes were made.

Dive in

  1. In our Q&A with Leanne Simpson, she explains that she wrote this poem because, “I was watching the closing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and I felt angry, not reconciled”  How do you feel the poem transforms that anger?
  2. How is the image of graffiti used in this poem?
  3. How does the poem suggest resilience and survival in the face of attempted erasure?
  4. How does the poet use repetition to suggest a continual re-emergence of the self?
  5. Do you feel that the mood of the poem is the same throughout, or does it change? Do you feel that the voice is using dark humour or sarcasm at any point? Where?
  6. If you were reciting this poem, what tone would you use? Would you vary the speed of your repetition? Where would you pause?
  7. Write a poem in response to something in the news that makes you angry. Think about how to vary the tone and use imagery and sound patterns so that your poem has more texture than a straightforward rant.




Check out Leanne Simpson’s personal website here.



Watch Leanne Simpson give a lecture on Restoring Nationhood at Simon Fraser University:



Watch the music video for her poem-song “Leaks,” which is a response to the first time her young daughter experienced racism:


See this video introducing Leanne Simpson as the first winner of the RBC Taylor Emerging Writer award:


A profile page on Leanne Simpson at cbc.ca


Naomi Klein speaks to Leanne Simpson:



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Bibliographical info

Leanne Simpson’s “i am graffiti” first appeared in the July/August 2015 issue of The Walrus, selected by Poetry In Voice Creative Director Damian Rogers in her role as poetry editor there.

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