Turtle Island Responds

Welcome to Turtle Island Responds, an online library of lived experience, offered in verse.

This news related online poetry series was inspired by Rattle Magazine’s Poets Respond and the many conversations I have had with others who have found themselves on the fringes. So much of the news is offered through the lens of the those in positions of power, but we rarely hear from the communities directly affected. Using the “no stories about us without us” teaching as our guiding principle, all that is offered here comes from those on the inside, those with lived experience. 

It has been such an honour to engage with the poets featured in this series. Please take a moment to read the poems and the author statements—all of which are very compelling. Many authors featured here have felt alone, yet like the solitary flower in this picture they are strong with their words, which ripple out into the world, bringing opportunities or invitations for understanding and change.  I hold my hands up to each of these poets. I give thanks for their willingness to share their stories.

I could not have done this series without the kind assistance of Wendy Barron who helped with the copyediting and publishing of all the poems featured here. I am so grateful to her for her steady ways. 

—All my Relations ~ Jónína Kirton, Curator of Turtle Island Responds

A single plant stem protrudes from rippled water reflecting a pink and purple sky.

Photo © Karen Davis, 2019 


Ashley Hynd

From Time Immemorial
by Ashley Hynd


Anna Quon

by Anna Quon


Jenna Kennedy

Ripples of Darkness
by Jenna Kennedy


Jill Talbot

Who am I
by Jill Talbot


Juliane Okot Bitek (photo credit: Seasmin Taylor

10 years to yes
by Juliane Okot Bitek


Maneesa Sotheewaran


Neo-regulated "Ethnophagy"
by Maneesa Sotheewaran


Caroline Many

Thrust Into My Wilderness
by Caroline Many


F.I. Goldhaber

Still Fighting
by F.I. Goldhaber


Mary Barnes

I Mind the Time
by Mary Barnes


Charlene Langfur

Truth Follows Character
by Charlene Langfur


Rachel Batya

by Rachel Batya


Jane Shi

they did
by Jane Shi


Nisa Malli

A Gunman Who Expressed Hatred of Jews Exploited Doors That Were Unlocked for Worship - Associated Press, Oct 27th 2018
by Nisa Malli


Tiffany Morris

My Great-Great Grandmother Was a Dystopian Halloween Costume
by Tiffany Morris


Barâa Arar

My mother asks why I cry
by Barâa Arar


Isabella Wang

by Isabella Wang


Gwen Benaway

letters to the editor
by Gwen Benaway


Christine Taylor

Caped Men
by Christine Taylor


Jude Hayes

my blanket
by Jude Hayes


Charlotte Henay

for my sister
by Charlotte Henay


Zofia Rose MusiejHome Is.
by Zofia Rose Musiej


To All the White People Who Voted for Change but Not to Hurt Me
by Fatima Amarshi


About the Editors

Jónína Kirton is a Métis/Icelandic poet/author and facilitator. Born in Treaty One (Portage la Prairie, Manitoba) she currently lives in the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Sḵwxwú7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh. Kirton received the 2016 Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for an Emerging Artist in the Literary Arts category. She was sixty when she published her first collection of poetry with Talonbooks in 2015. Much to her delight, page as bone ~ ink as blood, has received some critical acclaim. Two years later she brought us her second collection, again with Talonbooks. An Honest Woman is currently a finalist in the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Betsy Warland had this to say about An Honest Woman: “Kirton picks over how she was raised familially and culturally like a crime scene.” Apparently, all that dreaming about being a Nancy Drew when she grew up did come to fruition. Just not the way she thought it would as a child.

Wendy Barron, lifelong Lower Mainlander, is a graduate of SFU’s The Writer’s Studio (2014, speculative fiction), editing certificate program (2016), and plain language program (2018). She works in the publishing department at BC's provider of legal aid services, writing and editing materials designed to improve access to justice for people in British Columbia. She has a passion for conscious, inclusive, and plain language, feminism, representation, literacy, and helping people tell their stories. She volunteers too much, likes craft beer, and her favourite arrangement is when someone else does the cooking and cleaning. Find her at wendybarron.com and on Twitter @normaloqWendy.

Currently on Newsstands

  • Room 43.3 Neurodivergence: Collage construction featuring black and white architecture dotted with circular adornments and rectangular window grids.The architectures are both right-side-up and upside-down, challenging gravity while becoming their own planet - bonded together by sharp, clear crystal points and organic blooms of mustard-coloured minerals.
    Room 43.3, Neurodivergence
    Edited by Rachel Thompson

    In this issue:

    K. J. Aiello, Aeman Ansari, Annie Blake, Karmella Cen Benedito De Barros, Aimée Henny Brown, Megan Callahan, Conyer Clayton, Rachel D.L., Dorianne Emmerton, Lauren Ewald, Kate Finegan, Catherine Garrett, LHC, Safiya Hopfe, Madison Hyman, Claire Kelly, Terese Marie Mailhot, Elizabeth McGeown, Kate Mildew, Amy Newell, Lisa O’Neill, Ottavia Paluch, Ryan Rattliff, Nicole Robitaille, Michele Saint-Yves, Emi Sasagawa, L M Schmidt, A.K. Shakour, Jane Shi, Hilary Sideris, Nadia Siu Van, Erin Soros, Léa Taranto, Allison Bird Treacy, Sarah Williams, Lindsay Wong, A. Light Zachary