Weweni Book


Welcome to ojibwe.net’s Weweni home. The book is a collection of poems in Anishinaabemowin and English by Margaret O’Donnell Noodin. Find out more about the book and listen to some of the poems below. The book can be purchased from Wayne State University Press.

From the publisher:

Depending on dialect, the Anishinaabemowin word “weweni” expresses thanks, exactitude, ease, and sincerity. In addition, the word for “relatives” is “nindenwemaaganag”: those whose “enewewe,” or voices, sound familiar. In Weweni, poet Margaret Noodin brings all of these meanings to bear in a unique bilingual collection. Noodin’s warm and perceptive poems were written first in the Modern Anishinaabemowin double-vowel orthography and appear translated on facing pages in English.

From planetary tracking to political contrasts, stories of ghosts, and messages of trees, the poems in Weweni use many images to speak to the interconnectedness of relationships, moments of difficulty and joy, and dreams and cautions for the future. As poems move from Anishinaabemowin to English, the challenge of translation offers multiple levels of meaning—English meanings found in Anishinaabe words long as rivers and knotted like nets, English approximations that bend the dominant language in new directions, and sets of signs and ideas unable to move from one language to another. In addition to the individual dialogues played out beween Noodin’s poems, the collection as a whole demonstrates a fruitful and respectful dialogue between languages and cultures.

Noodin’s poems will be proof to students and speakers of Anishinaabemowin that the language can be a vital space for modern expression and, for those new to the language, a lyric invitation to further exploration. Anyone interested in poetry or linguistics will enjoy this one-of-a-kind volume.

Enjoy exploring the following poems in Anishinaabemowin and English with audio.



Apii jiibay bi dagooshinod
okanan nandawaabandaanan
gii gaadooyaan baatiindoon
ishkweyaang ndo’dengwekaajigan.

Nisimdana-ashi-niswi beshabiiaag
manidoominensag inaabiiginaag
oningwiiganan gaawiin tesiinon
onzowan gaawiin tesiinon.

Niizhtana-ashi-niizhwaaswi nindayaanan
wii aabjitooyaan ji-ezhininjiishiyaan
maage giiwitaajiishinidiying ji-maamwizhibiiamaang
dibaajimowinan e-waamjigaadeg.

Miidash dibishkoo makwa
gichikaanan biiskamowaad
mashkawiziwinan ji-maajaayaan.

Okanensan agaasin apii enewewin
gibaakogaadeg nipigemagong
apii ziitaaganimiskwimamaangaashkaamagag
bimiwidoowaad kaakazhewaabik waabanong mii ningaabii’anong.

Gaawiin tesiinon okanan
niindibong apii bwaajigeyaan,
nin’dooning apii jiim’inan,
ndo’neseng apii mamigaadeg.

Gaawiin tesiinon okanan
apii oshkibimaadiziwinkeying,
debiziying apii zaagidiying,
mawigaazoying, anamaegaazoying,

Mii sa nindan niibina gego
gashkigaadooyaan apii jiibay
bi dagooshin okanan nandawaabandaang.


When the ghost visits
looking for bones
I have some hidden
behind my mask.

I have a line of thirty-three
beads strung between
an absence of wings
to where there is no tail.

I have twenty-seven of them
I use to make one handprint
or curl together to write
stories that can be seen.

And when like a bear
I balance my height
the largest bones wear
ropes of strength in motion.

But the bones smaller than sound
are kept in a cage near my heart
where red saltwater waves
carry calcium east then west.

There are no bones
in my mind when I dream,
on my mouth when I kiss,
on my breath when it is taken away.

There are no bones
when we make new life,
fall in love satisfied,
cry or pretend to pray.

These are the things
I can hide
when the ghost visits
looking for bones.



Waabowayaanong soswaning
name mashtanishi-oningwiiganan
ninoshenhsag niimiwaad waabmagwa
nanagodinong zhikeyawaad
nanagodinong niizhiwaad
nookaa-zhoomingweniwaad miinawaa


In a nest of blankets
beneath woolen wings
I can see my aunts dancing
sometimes alone
sometimes in pairs
eyes closed
minds open smiles soft
and strong hearts.



niizhing gimewon
mii wi apii gii giiwanimowaad.

Akiwenziiyag biiminawag
gii waawiindamaadiwaad enji-zaagiding.

Mindimooyensag gibozanaawaan
dibajimowinan biinish ombishkaa
awaasa debwetaagwag.

Nooshensag ozaagiaawaan
zaam gashkitoowaad
anishaa’endamowaad ezhi-maadiziwaad.

Oniijaanishag gii zegiziwag
zaam gikendamowaad ingoding
waa ezhi-dibaajimowaad.

The Promisers

the rain came twice
and that is when they lied.

The old men twisted
the dusty promises
they once made as young lovers.

The old ladies baked
the tales until they rose
beyond believability.

The grandchildren adored them
for this ability to
re-imagine their lives.

Their own children were frightened
by the idea of what they
would say themselves one day.

“Noongom miinawaa awaswaabang, booch nisidotawdizoyang gaye nisidotangidwa
mayagizijig, manaadenimangwaa miinawaa maamakaadiziyang
ezhi-bimaadiziyang.” Emma Goldman, 1906

“The problem that confronts us today, and which the nearest future is to
solve, is how to be oneself, and yet in oneness with others, to feel deeply
with all human beings and still retain one’s own characteristic qualities.”
Emma Goldman, 1906



gii goshkwaakobizhinang
ondaadiziyang giizhigong
miinawaa akiing.

Noongom zhaabwiiyang
gakina awiiyaa inawendiyang.

noongom aakiing omaa
jibwaa jiibayag aayaaying
biizikamang naabikawaagan anangag
waabamangwaa giniijaanisnaanig.

The Way We Meet

Long ago in the mixing
we were shaken
in every direction
different children
of the sky and the land.

To survive now we must
be at peace in our hearts
understand one another
and bravely remember
we are all, one by one, cousins.

Let’s meet one another
here now on earth before
we become heavenly ancestors
wearing a necklace of stars
visible to our heirs.

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