At Monday night event, poets of the Indian Voices will address domestic violence

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — Poets and other writers in the Indian Voices group will gather again to address a painful past and present — and express renewed hope for a different future.

To mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month, eight writers plan to read short pieces at the Elwha Heritage and Training Center, 401 E. First St., on Monday beginning at 6 p.m.

Admission is free to this public event.

The Indian Voices writing group held a reading at the center at this time last year amid black cardboard figures representing Washingtonians who, after enduring violent relationships, were killed by their abusers.

Before a rapt audience, members of the Elwha, Makah and other Northwest tribes spoke about how their own lives were affected by domestic violence — between mothers and fathers, grandparents and other family.

Cardboard figures

The cardboard figures are standing at the center again now as Brenda Francis and Suzie Bennett of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, Coeur d'Alene tribal member Christopher Thomas and Brandan McCarty of the Makah tribe are returning to read their poems and stories.

Frank Cooper, a Quileute, will give his first Indian Voices reading Monday night.

Also new to the event are Kiana Stephan, a student at Dry Creek Elementary School in Port Angeles, and her sister Anika Stephan, a Stevens Middle School student.

Their writing is as powerful as that of the older writers, added Francis, communications manager for the Elwha tribe.

Raising awareness

The Lower Elwha Klallam Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Task Force is sponsoring the reading, she noted, in hopes of raising awareness about how abuse affects all of Indian Country.

“The poets may not identify or know if they were victims of domestic violence,” Francis said.

“But every poet is a victim of intergenerational trauma.”

Since Monday also happens to be Columbus Day, the Indian Voices writers also may choose to address what the occasion means to them, Francis added.


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at

Last modified: October 06. 2012 5:18PM
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