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Dear American Newscaster

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My country is so vast, and yet for some

reason you neglect our provinces, you say

“Fort McMurray, Canada” as if Alberta, the

size of Texas,  does not exist in this world

I can name nearly all of your fifty states, will

you please return the favo(u)r  and kindly end

this geography gap, look at a map, come on in

Identity is relevant, even for a wicked raging fire


For Open Link Night at dVerse, originally written for -“Meeting the Bar: The Golden Shovel Form”- where you choose a line from another poem and use each word in the line as an end word in your own poem. I used the following line “Some say the world will end in fire” from a poem called “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost. My thoughts have been with the 90,000 people in the Fort McMurray area evacuated from their homes and especially those who have no home to return to.


**Note: This poem is a “letter” to one particular news reporter although it is not the first time I have experienced this frustration.  It is only intended to be a gentle nudge to explore Canada, it’s distinct provinces and territories and not intended to offend my American friends, family or fellow poets.


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34 responses »

  1. I totally get this! I have taken the time to memorize all ten provinces and three territories several years ago. My daughter, when she was in 8th grade, 11 years ago, joined her classmates in learning and memorizing the Canadian National anthem, to surprise their teacher. I think YOU are right. Canada is our good neighbor to the north and I think Americans need to be less lazy and appreciate our friends and learn about their country. I think if all of the mandated testing was put aside in our classrooms, we could once again learn the things that are important: how to appreciate one another and the cultures of others–maybe then our world of humanity which is in great danger of obliterating itself, will survive.

    • Thank you so much for this comment. It means a lot! It was part of our school curriculum to learn the geography and history of the U.S. since we share this continent of North America. I always assumed that Americans were exposed to the same. I came to find out otherwise. When someone asks you, “How’s the weather up there in Canada?”, it just baffles me. I would never ask the same of the U.S., realizing there are so many different climates in a large mass of land. I agree with you, humanity begins with knowledge and understanding.

  2. No offense taken. Nice Golden Shovel.

  3. Please don’t take it personally – and I’m not taking your frustration lightly….Our media as a whole are not the most professional by far – they are more interested in making headlines than anything else. I am sorry, for what it’s worth…..

  4. I definitely remember studying the geography of Canada when I was in school (U.S.) and when I learned of the fires I looked up Alberta to remind me of where it was located. I’m ashamed of how the school systems here are teaching children how to pass exams in order to get schools better funding and grades but are failing in teaching the basics. Ugh! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mish.
    Gayle ~

    • Thanks Gayle. I really appreciate your honest response. So glad you were made aware of our geography and thank you for your concern re: the fires in Alberta. My husband is American and he says that his views have changed since he has resided here in Canada. It has become very clear to me over the years that there is an imbalance as far as knowledge of each others’ countries. I’ve never really understood why. Canada is an amazing country. So many Canadians travel each year to visit the U.S. without a second thought, while many Americans shy away from visiting Canada. I hope to be learn more about the reasons why.:)

      • You’re very welcome, Mish. I don’t have a clue as to why more Americans don’t visit Canada. When I lived in Boston, MA, my husband, and two daughters visited Canada. We had family there and spent a few days with them in Ontario. I was thrilled to be there and out of the U.S. for the first (and only) time. I would happily return! 🙂

  5. Even here in Sweden they said Alberta, though I’m ashamed that I couldn’t place it easily on a map…

  6. Some people are just ignorant and I can totally relate to your rant ~ And this is a lovely golden shovel form with the nod to the devastation of that fire beast ~ Happy weekend ~

  7. i rarely watch news now because i’m quite pissed of with significant failures of media journalism/news i have seen. i guess tv profits are more important to them. glad i have poems like this and the others on dVerse i can read on.

  8. oh not to worry….you’ve not offended this American at all! A great nudge, a great golden shovel….shove it to them my dear! 🙂 And apologies for this geographical gaffe….
    On a serious note, the devastation caused by fire is so complete, so wipe-clean and leave in ashes. Prayers sent for all those in harms way — those fleeing and those fighting flames.

  9. So very true. Your poem left me nodding. It also reminds me of how I feel when most Americans talk about the Dominican Republic, my homeland. Most people know of the great beaches and tourists attractions. But few take the time to learn about the people who work the land, who mix their fun drinks, who perish when our island goes into one of her stormy rages.

    I’ve spent some time in Alberta, so I shall not forget of its existence. Still, before your poem, I didn’t know that it was so big. Gracias!

    Love the educational–and slightly annoyed voice of the speaker. 🙂

    • It is sad when tourists don’t explore outside of the realm of a resort. You have probably spent more time in Alberta than I have…just a short visit when I was a child. Thank you for your comment, Magaly. 🙂

  10. A very powerful execution of the Golden Shovel form 🙂 you go girl ❤

  11. Speaking from South Africa (the bottom end of Africa), it is true for most of us too, not knowing conditions and culture in the countries sharing the continent. It’s laziness. And then we hold on to the negative things we hear and don’t bother to explore and talk about the positiveness that abounds too. 90 000 people displaced! Just terrible.

  12. I very much appreciated your clear message delivered in a clever poetic structure.

  13. I liked reading your write. You have to understand we don’t get maps with Canada on them, they are blank above our northern borders…please forgive our ignorance.

    • Hard to respond to that, annell because I am so surprised. Blank?? Wow! In Canada we are very aware of all the countries of North America. I cannot speak for all Canadians but anyone I know has at least a general idea of where each of the 50 states are located and have visited many states. With ten provinces and three territories, Americans have it easy for learning our geography. I really do appreciate your comment. It sheds more light on a subject dear to my heart. Thank you! 🙂

  14. News people seem to me to be totally ignorant of life in general! Here, here, bravo!

  15. I like golden shovels, and I especially like yours.

  16. I’m not ashamed of being ignorant, although I would have been ashamed of not researching further. I know next to nothing about Canada’s geography so I made a point to research and find out about exactly where the fires are and look on a map. I know so many people who do not know the geography but I have heard so many people expressing concern and talking about offering up prayers for the people and wonder what they could do to help. that I think is what is important. Some of us may not know where you are, but we are concerned about who you are and what we can do to help. I’m not offended in the least. Since the government began sticking its noses into the education system and using funds as a way to get schools to teach what they want them to teach, education has gone way downhill. There are people in my country who haven’t a clue that there is a North and South Dakota, a North and South Carolina, and that Chicago isn’t a separate state. Now that is something to be truly ashamed of here in this US of A. And….our journalists don’t always care about the facts, just the headlines.

  17. It is wonderful to hear of prayers and concerns for this tragedy. I know that those affected would be very grateful. You are right…reaching out to those suffering, no matter where they are, is much more important than my little rant. In hindsight I should never have blended these two topics in one piece of poetry, as one is SO much more serious. I am sorry for doing that.

    Thank you for your honesty and explanations regarding your education system. It seems to vary quite a bit from ours where curriculum and funding are more standardized. I love traveling in the U.S. We are planning a road trip this summer to North Carolina where my husband was born.


  18. Those Fort Mac evacuees have certainly been on my mind a lot too! Of course, Alberta is right next to my own home (Saskatchewan), so this his pretty close to home (both figuratively and literally).


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