Editing Modernism in Canada


April 25, 2014

Returning Sepass Poems to their Oral Tradition

EMiC has funded a project to create an audio edition of Sepass Poems, and Ann Mohs of Longhouse Publishing has been overseeing the recording of the poems, which will be released later this year. The recordings are connected to a larger UBC initiative with which EMiC is affiliated. Ann has three books and 30 years of aboriginal connections informing her work on this project and she believes in producing high quality and meaningful publications. Below she gives an introduction to the project and her experience organizing it:

I have been given a very honourable place to be the publisher of the Sepass Poems, and recently to bring back the 16 Sepass Poems to their traditionally oral presentation—the way they were spoken back in William Sepass’ day (before 1943). This has been a joy, indeed.

Over the past year and a bit, an all-native talent cast  has been recording in a small secluded studio in Burnaby for the production of the audio CD of the 16 Sepass Poems, Ancient songs of Y-Milhth. Longhouse Publishing has provided the direction and organization, and EMiC has generously provided the funds.

Longhouse Publishing gratefully took on the audio CD project as a natural extension of the book—a lovingly published 3rd edition sponsored by generous corporate funders with vested interests in things Aboriginal. After it caught the interest of Dr. Dean Irvine, and he brought up the query of the audio CD and the funds to achieve it, Longhouse Publishing moved quickly to make it happen in the right way. Thank you, Dean!


A little about the Poems: William Sepass recited these 16 poems from memory—training as orator from childhood—in the traditionally oral way. This set of 16 poems speaks of the beginning of the world, how everything came to be, and incorporates in story-form the physical, spiritual, and social attributes played out by humankind in its development along the way.  In the oral tradition—unlike print—these stories take on an amazing dimension, and will delight all listeners. Traditionally and culturally, they were meant as teachings to be spoken and listened to!

I am so grateful for the contribution and opportunities EMiC has given Longhouse Publishing through Dr. Dean Irvine.  He is the Sepass family’s Champion, and I know they, too, are grateful for the recognition of importance that Dean has placed on the Poems. Without this support, there would only be the desire to hear the poems in the oral tradition—not the opportunity to hear them!

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