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An essay on contemporary native american poetry

That two Navajo poets could produce such different poetries is an indicator of the menu of good poetry emerging at this time.

As it happens, the story of Native poetry is also the story of the publishing of Native poetry. Most are published by university presses or small independent publishers like Copper Canyon or Hanging Loose Press.

It is impossible to imagine what Native poetry would look like if not for this revolutionary series. New and Selected Poems both received a great deal of attention. A lyrical meditation on an area of important Oneonta mounds in South Dakota and Iowa now known as Blood Run, these poems chart a cartography of the mythic past and the dislocated present. Fans of Fence, formal hybridity, flash fiction, and experimental poetics should try to get their hands on a special issue of Sentence: It represents the first anthology of Native prose poetry and one of the most interesting examples of the rich tapestry of contemporary Native writing.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should come clean and admit that I curated the feature. Despite that, it is still a really great collection.

There is a new generation of poets who I find particularly impressive in terms of innovative poetic form. Natalie Diaz is, of course, one of the most interesting writers around, regardless of genre. Her basketball poems are smart and fun and dark and wild. Orlando White is doing some fascinating stuff with linguistics, letters, alphabets, and the relationship we have to print, words, letters, and language. She waits for him to notice her.

Contemporary Native American Poetry Essentials

Another poet who sees the English language as both blessing and curse is Sherwin Bitsui Navajo. In fact, at times, English and its poetic tradition feel more like an enemy than a mode of connection: No one seems to know about this book, but I think it is amazing.

  • English might be American; but it is not indigenous to America;
  • White exploration and settlement were followed by the arrival of missionaries who converted Indians to Christianity and educated them in religious schools.

She picks up where she left off in National Monuments but adds some fascinating poems in Anishinaabemowin, co-written with Margaret Noodin. Howe has done a great deal of research, combing through a variety of documents.

  • It is impossible to imagine what Native poetry would look like if not for this revolutionary series;
  • The Animal People and Plant People participated in a history before and after the arrival of humans, and this history was kept through the spoken word;
  • The texts tie Indian people to the earth and its life through a spiritual kinship with the living and dead relatives of Native Americans;
  • Fearful that their oral traditions would disappear forever as the tribal communities became more and more fragmented under the demoralizing conditions of reservation life, some native Americans began to write down the legends and folktales of their tribes, as well as their own personal narratives, in an effort to preserve their history and culture for posterity;
  • For many Native Americans the turn of the century marked their dispossession of ancestral lands, the nadir of the populations, and confinement to reservations.

Some excerpts appeared in the recent journal 580 Splitwhere you can see a free preview. English might be American; but it is not indigenous to America. There is something wholly refreshing about Indigenous writers composing poetry in language Native to this land.