Victoria-based poet and musician, Tara Williamson was handpicked to have her work showcased in a short film series called How to Lose Everything.
Williamson was born in Manitoba and came to Victoria in 2006 to attend UVic’s law program where she got her master’s in Indigenous governance.
Following post-secondary there she entered the world of the arts, becoming an accomplished musician and poet — this is how she became connected to the creator of this short film series.
How to Lose Everything is a series of short films created by Christa Couture that is based on her memoir of the same name. The series was released on Friday, January 27th.
The series is meant to explore personal stories of loss and grief throughout five episodes which are available in English, French, and the Indigenous language of the writer. The Nations and languages represented are Cree, Ojibwe, Anishinaabe, Ktunaxa, Inuit, Chippewa, Potawatomi, Atikamekw and Métis.
Couture chose Williamson’s poem called Heart Like A Pow Wow to be a part of the series because the two have a longstanding relationship as friends and collaborators.
“Christa reached out to the writers first so I was one of the writers she reached out to,” Williamson told Victoria Buzz.
“It’s a grief project and we’re talking about grief, and I was like I have so much grief stuff, I have whole albums, I have books and books and songs,” she joked.
Inspired by different types of grief, Williamson chose to use a piece she had written about her own lived experience.
“I was like, ‘I would actually really like to work on some things I wrote when I was pregnant,’ because that was just where I was at and that’s part of my grief too, and Christa said, ‘sure.’”
From there Williamson looked back at some of the pieces of poetry she had written during that time, made some slight changes and refinements and handed off her work to the project’s director.
Heart Like a Pow Wow was directed by Chief Lady Bird who is a Chippewa and Potawatomi artist based out of Toronto. Chief Lady Bird handled the animations while Williamson took care of the music composition and the writing of the poem.
“What’s interesting is I wrote the poem about seven or eight years ago,” said Williamson.
Williamson had done composition accompaniment for poetry before that she said provided her a good framework for what she did in Heart Like a Pow Wow.
“These ones though, I sort of tried to take some inspiration from some traditional music but really liberally,” said Williamson. “Some Anishinaabe drum songs and similar stylings of melody, but really loosely.”
Williamson also had some help from another local musician for this project on some of the technical engineering aspects.
“We needed a studio engineer and Aidan Knight, who is from Victoria, so he did the sound engineering and helped with some sound design.”
“There had to be a real shift in mood, so Aidan did a really great job in thinking of how to transition.”
Williamson’s music can be found on her website and all five episodes in the How to Lose Everything series are out now on CBC Gem.