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I Lost My Talk By Rita Joe
Transcript of I Lost My Talk By Rita Joe
I lost my talk
The talk you took away.
When I was a little girl
At Shubenacadie school.
You snatched it away:
I speak like you
I think like you
I create like you
The scrambled ballad, about my word.
Two ways I talk
Both ways I say,
Your way is more powerful.
So gently I offer my hand and ask,
Let me find my talk
So I can teach you about me.
Who is Rita Joe?
Before being able to understand Rita Joe’s poems, you have to know her story. Rita Joe was born in Nova Scotia in 1932, and is an aboriginal part of the Mi’kmaq culture. At the age of twelve, she went to a Residential School in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. During her stay, she recalls many of the horrible events that she faced, such as verbal and physical abuse.
Theme of Restraint
Theme of Courage
This poem shows the theme of courage because, Joe has the courage to stand up and ask people to help her find her talk. She asks for help when she says, “So greatly I offer my hand and ask, let me find my talk.” This again is referring to the time of residential schools. By Joe going up and asking for such a thing, she could have been severely punished. Yet despite the consequences, Joe heroically stands up, says what happens, and ask for help. Joe also shows courage because this is not an emotionally easy thing to talk about. By Joe saying this, she probably remembered past events that brought back awful memories. Yet despite how emotionally difficult it was, she was courageous enough to stand up and talk.
Rita Joe often writes about the time she spent at the Residential School in Shubenacadie, but she also reflects a positive outlook on life of the revival of her Mi’kmaq culture.
This poem shows the theme of restraint because Joe wants to speak her talk, which is referring to her ‘native language,’ but the school will not let her. When Joe says, “I lost my talk The talk you took away.” Joe is saying she has lost her native language due to the restrains residential school have, that they evidently took it away. If students were to speak their native language at residential schools, there would be harsh consequences. Joe is restrained from speaking her language because if she does, it will not turn out well.
- She was taken away from her family as a little girl and sent to a residential school
- She lost who she was and how to speak her language
- They have restrained her
- Her native language was taken away, and she was forced to speak, write, and think the way the school told her.
- Knows two ways to talk but the white people way is more powerful
- She knows 2 cultures and 2 languages
- English is more powerful because it is enforced everywhere
- Cry for help
- Asking herself to stand up
- Shows courage
- Asking for patience to be able to find her words, and to teach us about herself
"I speak like you, I think like you, I create like you"
This is used to emphasize what she was put through.
"When I was a little girl"
This line symbolizes helplessness and not being able to fight. Is symbolizes her weakness when this event happened.
"I speak like you"
This line is a smile because, it is comparing the way Joe talks to the way residential school want her to talk, by using like.
Type of poem:
This poem is a Lyrical Poem because it expresses a personal moment which Rita Joe lived, which was going to a Residential School. This poem is speaking in present tense asking for help, although this issue was in the past. This poem also has a specific rhyming scheme that is not easily understood.
This poems purpose is to find help. This poem is recalling horrible events, all for the soul purpose to find help. Joe at the end of the poem asks for help saying, "So gently I offer my hand and ask, Let me find my talk." She chooses to leave the readers with this one message to help her find her talk. This is what she was trying to convey.
I Lost My Talk, By Rita Joe
Before and after Residential Schools