I AM A CANADIAN!!

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: July 01, 2017

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Submitted: July 01, 2017

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My name is Russian,

my ancestry predominantly Romanian

and Balkan (e.g. Greek).

I’m monolingual—

the only language I know,

thus far, is English;

it’s the only language

I can read and speak.

I like to read Shakespeare,

English literature,

and foreign literature translated into English

from other languages:

Romanian,

Russian,

Spanish,

Arabic,

Japanese.

My favourite Romanian-language authors are Mircea Cartarescu

and Dumitru Tsepeneag.

My favourite Russian-language authors are Fyodor Dostoyevsky

and German Sadulaev.

My favourite Spanish-language author is Manuel Puig.

My favourite Arabic-language authors are Ahlam Mosteghanemi

and Mahmoud Saeed.

My favourite Japanese-language author is Yukio Mishima.

My favourite English-language novel is Wuthering Heights

by Emily Brontë.

I also think everyone should read the English translation

of the novel Blinding: The Left Wing

by Cartarescu,

in addition to Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.

 

I want to start reading more Canadian literature.

The best Canadian novel I ever read

would probably have to be

Who Has Seen the Wind by W. O. Mitchell.

When I studied English in high school

our teacher got us to read and write about

stories and poems by Aboriginal Canadians.

I regret not keeping a written record

of my favourites.

So what does it mean to be a Canadian?

It probably means different things to different people.

Sometimes it’s just about being

polite and nice.

Yet we all know how easily that can be misused

and metamorphose into hypocrisy

and mendacity.

Or maybe it’s about respecting diversity,

and yet hate crimes are on the rise.

So maybe being too “polite”

doesn’t always help.

Nor does being rude

and/or prejudiced

the way some Vancouverites can be:

arrogant and narcissistic,

taking themselves too seriously,

finding cold comfort in their

malignant superiority.

I fear that we will allow our nation

to stagnate

and devolve into a dark age,

an ice age of dismal heights,

tedious media,

mediocre art,

and phony free speech.

I fear I’m worse than everyone else.

Perhaps I can try to become better.

After all, I am a Canadian!!

 

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a Russian name

and an Eastern European accent.

I feel like some people who notice these traits

consider them blemishes,

and I am deemed unworthy

in their eyes.

A girl once told me I have handsome features,

yet I’ve never been with someone I was attracted to.

I have no social skills,

and self-neglect has been my undoing.

People have asked me (or observed),

“You’re Russian, right?”

“He has a very Russian name.”

“Do you know Russian?”

“Are you a Canadian citizen?”

“Why do you still have an accent?”

“Do you know what part of Russia

your grandparents came from?”

“Do you have dual citizenship with Russia?”

And I can’t lie

and say it never bothered me

on the inside.

I don’t see myself as Russian,

I never lived there,

I don’t know the language,

and my biological father and maternal grandmother

were very Romanian.

Perhaps I have a “Russian soul”

for better or worse.

Yet I wish I could be seen as Canadian

or North American.

Yet maybe I don’t belong here

or anywhere.

That’s what I fear.

What if I’ll never truly be a Canadian??

 

Compared to many places in the world,

Canada is the safest it can be.

There are very few violent homophobes

or violent racists here,

no terrorist attacks.

Sure, a lot of people in the arts,

music, activism, and politics

tend to be mediocre and ordinary

bums, simpletons and prejudiced rednecks,

yet that’s the case pretty much everywhere;

xenophobic rednecks and philistines

comprise the majority

of every nation.

It’s easy to focus on the negatives:

the ultra-competitive and

fast-paced atmosphere,

the homeless and drug-addicted

on East Hastings,

the perfectly surreal proletarian streets;

urban deprivation,

isolation,

immigrant alienation.

 

Surely we all recognize

that almost every nation has

been responsible for killing,

abusing, exploiting,

and terrorizing humans

within and outside its man-made borders;

and this will continue to be the case,

one way or another,

as long as abusive childrearing—

physical, sexual, emotional, verbal abuse

and neglect—continues to be practiced

and inflicted on infants and children

behind closed doors.

 

I would like to improve myself

and my life.

I want to learn Romanian,

I want to work on my accent reduction

in English.

I have to finish reading The Six

Pillars of Self-Esteem.

I have to cultivate

and nurture values and virtues

within my spirit and everyday life,

so that I will no longer be an ignoble, spineless

lackey on sacred territory.


© Copyright 2017 Saul Przybyszewski. All rights reserved.