this is the way
strut after strut
the blue grouse wakens stars for us
and stroke after stroke
we pass through night’s constellations
from Pictograms From The Interior of B.C.
poem-pictogram 33 (1975) Fred Wah
"the blue grouse wakens stars for us" reminded me of a moment in 1990 or so, visiting my sister in the countryside of southern Manitoba, walking nearby: a family of ruffed grouse tumbling into the narrow sand road from the dense foliage on either side, mother supervisory and urchins more playful than that. i stood watching quietly, as i am prone to do, until they were done with the dust and scooted back through the grasses and branches.
i considered briefly how to translate the line into pictograms-- a line writ transcreating pictographs is really just begging to be translated back-- and so the top image, bird, is as far as i got. this is the word in Chinese pictograph terminology (old words).
considering the specificity of birds-- ptarmigan are the only grouse-relatives it seems who are circumpolar-- i found a traditional Salish word for "blue grouse" spoken in regalia & dance: Blue Grouse Dance (second image). More literally (old/contemporary word):
blue grouse qáçqçàeÛ, qá – grouse; blue grousethe pictured dancers were gathered in Prince Rupert for celebration, far north of the specific old writings/"sturgeon scribbles" location
33. Site No. 65 - Panel b/Cayuse Creek/Interior Salish (Lakes)*
then follows an image of blue grouse and two of ruffed grouse (the bird of the word and the bird of my mindseye~memory evoked)
säisäs – ruffed grouse; domestic chickenthen maps of same, noting permanence, brooding, transience, absence of information, even vagrancy
below is a lovely synthesis of poetry and image by Joseph Ku of NZ, incorporating the pictogram "fly" with a poem by his mother, and several alphabets/scripts, all forms of synthesizing beauty
On a recent visit to the west coast, artist Peter Clair mentioned that the Mi'kmaq word for "petroglyph" is most simply translated as "sturgeon scribblings"— the marks left on the bottom of the river or stream as the fish go about their business.
Blue Grouse Dance, Gitmaxmak'ay Nisga'a Dancers in Prince Rupert, Hoobiyee 2010
Extracts from Selish Dictionary_online.pdf by Tachini Pete, pages 51 & 85
Seliñ Translation English to Salish Dictionary, Pre-Press Draft 3.4 – December 1, 2006
© 2006, Tachini Pete http://www.salishworld.com/Selish%20Dictionary_online.pdf
Ruffed Grouse (photo © Krista & Bob Brown)
Ruffed Grouse & fledglings, Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas
Fred Wah, Pictograms from the Interior of B.C., Talonbooks, 1975 (p33)
*pictograph notation as originally published by John Corner in his book, Pictographs (Indian Rock Paintings) in the Interior of British Columbia (Vernon, 1968)
For more about Fred,
For more about Fred,
For archival excerpts of 1979 translated project,
Some recent discussion/response to Fred's original project on this blog:
Chris Arnett abstract for recent discussion re-pictographs of BC:
Maps by Terry Sohl, sources:
Joseph Ku, NZ, from the second of his six part presentation, "Graphic Design as Visual Art" on Kudesign blog, http://kudesign.co.nz/ Follow the link below to see detail & read discussion of this work:
Peter Clair spoke of this in a conversation at Kogawa House, Vancouver BC. If i messed it up, blame me, not him.
See "prairie chicken" for a few more related thought-images