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September 2020
Double Stringing: Métis 
by Michelle Porter

fiddlers, the old-timers,
say you could tell their music 
by the double-stringing technique
two rows parallel strings 
paddle and canoe travelling through 
music that never did fit on the map 
not the way they like 
to make those maps
but they travelled on those rivers
playing two strings at once
plucked at the bottom two strings
of the fiddle
and the other strings sounded
with the melody on accented beats
hard to tell a new tune from an old one 
sometimes depended who was making it
their own    older players take new songs
add the double stringing   the uneven
phrasing make it old-style
make it sound like it’s been around 
since the first Métis got to singing 
and dancing in the teepees by the 
carts in the log houses young
players can take an old tune and 
straighten it out make it sound
like some shining dark-eyed
Métis kid with all the talent made
the song for the next session
Songs going back and forth straightened 
out and made crooked      dancing
from one string to the other balancing 
on two strings at once least 
that’s what they say
 © Michelle Porter 2020. Published in Approaching Fire (Breakwater Books) - release date October 14, 2020
Approaching Fire
Michelle Porter
Breakwater Books
ABOUT THE BOOKIn Approaching Fire, Michelle Porter embarks on a quest to find her great-grandfather, the Métis fiddler and performer Léon Robert Goulet. Through musicology, jigs and reels, poetry, photographs, and the ecology of fire, Porter invests biography with the power of reflective ingenuity, creating a portrait which expands beyond documentation into a private realm where truth meets metaphor. 

Winner of The Miramichi Reader's 2020 Most Promising Author Award

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Porter is a Red River Métis poet, journalist, and editor. She holds degrees in journalism, folklore, and geography (PhD). Her academic research and creative work have been focused on home, Métis mobility, and the changing nature of our relationship to land. She’s won awards for her work in poetry and journalism, and has been published in literary journals, newspapers, and magazines across the country. She lives in St. John’s.
Established in 1973, BREAKWATER BOOKS  was founded on the principle of preserving the unique culture and stories of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Maritime provinces. They publish Canadian literary fiction, commercial fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children’s books. 


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