2017

December 30th 2017: 2017 has been a year of triumph & challenge. On March 4th 2017 as the 45th annual 1,000-mile Iditarod sled dog race took off in Fairbanks Alaska I wrote a poem called “because i am a sled dog” to honour the many sled dogs who have suffered, been abused, and who have died as a result of being forced to run a thousand miles in grueling conditions in the Alaskan Iditarod and the Yukon Quest. Thus began my campaign to expose the suffering and exploitation of defenseless animals in the sled dog industry. As the New Year dawns I vow to continue until the last sled dog crosses the last finish line. ~~> <~~

 

As I look back at 2017 I applaud the many brave women who have come forward to expose the perpetrators of rape, sexual assault, molestation, and domestic violence. And I add my voice to the war cry of “”. We are the survivors. We have suffered in silence too long.

 

December 24th 2017: On this frosty Christmas Eve of 2017 in Marley and I wish all a safe and happy Festive Season and ask that you keep the in your thoughts and prayers.

December 6th 2017: Just returned from a two-day event called 'Laureate City' at the The National Arts Centre - Centre national des Arts in Ottawa where I performed several of my creative works including a piece called "Faded Rose of Yukon"  which had never been shared publicly. I also spoke out on behalf of the sled dogs who continue to suffer by being forced to run a thousand miles in the two brutal long-distance sled dog races the Alaskan Iditarod and the Yukon Quest. I closed my set with a performance of "Colour Me Canadian"  accompanied by my musical soundscape and playing my moosehide Raven Drum. Perfect piece to perform on Capitol Hill.

 

I was honoured to attend this rare gathering of celebrated poets from across Canada and have an opportunity to meet and listen to a diverse group of talented poets. On day two I attended a conference at the NAC to meet with fellow laureates and discuss ways to promote, inspire, and support the literary arts in Canada. It was a treat to perform in the newly refurbished NAC building. I enjoyed reconnecting with Parliamentary Poet Laureate George E. Clarke who I last saw in Whitehorse when we performed a reading together at the Yukon Government building in January.

   

 

  

  

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 28th 2017: Tomorrow I begin my journey to Ottawa Ontario to attend this exciting event!

 

September 24th 2017:

*This poem was buried in a time capsule beneath Main Street Whitehorse in 1986 and has never been shared publicly until now. At the time I composed it back in 1983 writing anything less than a glowing tribute in reference to the Klondike Gold Rush would have been considered absolutely scandalous. You could risk a blue ticket out of town! Today as you approach Dawson City the endless rows of tailings that scar the earth are still visible.

 

Dawson City – home of the famous Klondike Goldrush – was once my hometown is presently being considered to become a World Heritage site. Many of the old buildings from the gold rush in 1897 still lean drunkenly as they shift into the permafrost and others slowly crumble – they just paint over the cracks and prop up the buildings every now and then.

 

British poet Robert W. Service captured much of the excitement of that era. The brief history of the Klondike Gold Rush tends to overshadow the fact that the area is actually one of the most beautiful and pristine on the face of the earth today and a history that extends far beyond the scrabble for gold. A history that began with the arrival of people who crossed the Bering Sea 10,000 years ago.

 

To this day the quest for gold continues and as the hills are mined and re-mined over and over again, this poem remains buried in a time capsule somewhere beneath Main Street Whitehorse Yukon – to be unearthed as part of the 100th anniversary celebrations of the City of Whitehorse in the year 2050.

 

faded rose of yukon©PJ Yukon December 11 1983

      

enchantress! sing the days of yore

of gold and men and mire

and smile again through broken teeth

upon your funeral bier

old faded jaded princess

be-crowned by greed of man

enthroned by mere discovery

of nuggets in a pan

 

so great you once exalted

a rose upon the vine

your petals now be-faulted

your enemy is time

once raped in youth and beauty

the lame excuse was “gold!”

your soul exchanged for booty

and left behind to mold

 

you sink within the cradle

that now becomes the grave

to sleep as those bereft you

no longer young and brave

your face is lined and tired

be-layered now with paint

as man is yet inspired

your history to taint

 

in ignorance he fails you

exploits you to his shame

with clarion he hails you

though knowing not your name

your name was breathless beauty

while sleeping in the brush

and wonder of creation

before the klondike rush!

 

sad tiring miring shadow

you sigh as mortals creep

to wake a worn old lady

who wants so much to sleep

your back is stoopt and bended

your grief may never end

as lazarus you’re mended

to stand and die again

 

oh dying crying ghost town

for you there is no pity

as seed of greed yet haunteth thee

oh wretched dawson city!

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Summer 2017- Stuff I Did:

I had a long overdue visit with my old pal & partner in crime Yukon Artist Jim Robb.

 

A surprise visit from a little someone carrying this portrait of me. An oil portrait painted by Yukon artist William Sinclair just before my investiture 1994. My official poet laureate pin not yet on my Stetson.

I enjoyed visiting poets at the "Poetry in the Park" event in New Westminster where I spoke about the plight of northern sled dogs and shared my poem, "because i am a sled dog" .

August 12th 2017 was a a great day to be Canadian and welcome back to Whitehorse the Magnificent R.C.M.P. Musical Ride with a song called “Colour Me Canadian”  that I was comissioned to compose in 1994 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the presence of the RCMP in the north and welcome the R.C.M.P. Musical Ride on their first visit to the Yukon. It was a pleasure to welcome them back to Whitehorse with that same song. I also enjoyed a visit with music legend Hank Karr.

 

July 1st 2017: Canada's 150th birthday celebrations on July 1st 2017.  Photo City of Whitehorse #Canada150 #StandForCanada #Yukon #PoetLaureate

July 1st 2017 - Canada Day: Exactly 23 years to the day I was invested as the Yukon's first official Yukon Poet Laureate. It was an honour to perform my song "Colour Me Canadian"  on  my country's 150th birthday! *Filmed at a live performance the audio is what it is.

 

May 14 2017: Honoured to be featured in an interview in Bihar, India - An Interview with pj johnson, Yukon Poet Laureate about her journey as a poet laureate. .... authorinterviews.net/conversations/pj-johnson/

March 15th 2017: Today my manifesto exposing the ugly truth of sled dog racing is being featured in Bihar, India's current issue of the Ashvamegh Journal ~~> .

I am also honoured to have my poems featured in Bihar, India in the March issue of the Ashvamegh Journal ~~>

 

March 6th 2017:

Today as the 45th annual 1,000-mile Iditarod sled dog race takes off in Alaska, I wrote this poem in honour of the many dogs who have suffered, been abused, and have died as a result of living the life of a sled dog and being forced to run a thousand miles in grueling conditions in long distance sled dog races - namely the Yukon Quest and the Alaskan Iditarod. I also wrote it to give a voice to the many defenseless sled dogs who continue to be abused and forced to spend their lives tethered on a 4 foot chain 24-7. It is further dedicated to the rescued 'Sleddies' who survived and in honour of those who didn’t.

 

 

because i am a sled dog

 

because i am a sled dog

i have no voice

i can only speak to you

with my eyes

with my bark

and with the wagging of my tail

 

if i could talk to you

i would tell you that i worship you

and that my only wish

is to be with you

to be loved and adored

and to be wanted for who i am

 

i would tell you

i am a living breathing being

much like you

that feels love and joy and pain

and if i could only speak to you in words

i would tell you all these things

 

i would tell you i am here

to do your bidding

even if that means running a thousand miles

in a brutal race i didn’t choose to run

even if it means

i might suffer and die

 

for you are my world

my greatest joy

and i only live to please you  

i would protect you with my life

if you asked me to

all i ask in return

is that you love me back

 

©pj johnson Yukon March 6th 2017

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January 20th: I attended an event hosted by The Yukon Government along with Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Clarke and Yukon MP Hon. Larry Bagnell where I shared my composition, "Colour Me Canadian".  See Video at: Videos by pjj

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January 20th: I recently attended an event hosted by The Yukon Government along with Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Clarke and Yukon MP Hon. Larry Bagnell where I shared "Colour Me Canadian". Click here for video ~~> 2017

Read more: https://www.yukonpoetlaureate.com/news-/