M. L. Smoker (Assiniboine/Sioux heritage)
Smoker is a poet whose poems were published in
Another Attempt at Rescue has been described by
Sherman Alexie as tough, funny and magical.
"This is blue-collar magic," he wrote.
"Unemployed magic. Living on government cheese magic."
A few lines from Smoker's Non-Indian in Me:
She casts language about, thinking herself
Her contention—that words are wild but willing—
often degenerates into quiet
an uncivilized competition.
Smoker is from the Assiniboine/Sioux heritage, she is from the Fort Peck Reservation in northeastern Montana
and holds an MFA from the University of Montana in Missoula.
Santee Frazier (Cherokee)
Frazier is a poet who holds a BFA from IAIA and an MFA from Syracuse University. He is the author of Dark
Thirty, which takes us through the backwoods towns and big cities of Cherokee country. A young man catches a
Greyhound bus to Flagstaff after his ex-girlfriend tells him he has fathered a child, and the cops come knocking
when a neighbor is shot. There are no remnants of romanticized Native life here.
A few words from his poem Ripped on a Friday Night:
face in Tuxy's Bar one Friday night. The judge
gave him a year in the county jail. Last time he
got thrown in jail, the guards stole his money
when they booked him, so he took his last
hundred-dollar bill and folded it and stuck it in
his mouth where a tooth had once been.
Of his Flood Song, Bitsui says in an interview conducted by poet Christopher "The book is one collision in a long
history of collisions. Certainly, as I get older, I'm more aware of how perspectives are shaped by environments. I
am also aware of how I've been imprinted and/or mapped by my own cultural perspective, and how quickly that
perspective has also changed in my lifetime." The way he sees it—and this may help explain why so many poets are
at the forefront of Native literature these days—"Everything is tunneling toward one big globular exposition,
but even that destination is unknowable for now. It appears to me that the poem, as apparatus, adjusts such
climates in its zone of sight to give the reader a more condensed sense of knowing, or an entrance to what
knowledge is being revealed within its framing.”
Layli Long Soldier
Poet Layli Long Soldier (Oglala Lakota) holds a BFA in creative
writing from IAIA and is currently pursuing her MFA at Bard
College. She lives in Tsaile, Arizona and teaches at Dine College.
Her first chapbook is titled Chromosomory (Q Ave Press, 2010).
She says her poetry is driven by connections with others. "It's
the achy-breaky fragility of humanness, the terror, trauma and the
unexpected that makes me feel," she specifies. She delves deeply—as she puts it, "Busting out my poemic light
saber to battle hysteria, psychoanalysis, Freudian thought, repression and free association that are so central to
dg nanouk okpik
nanouk is an Alaskan Inupiat/Inuit poet from the Arctic slope, published her first chapbook. Effigies, in 2009.
Informed by her Inuit mythology and worldview, her poems intrigue, offend and invite the senses.
A few lines from her poem called Steroscope:
petals radiate from one orbit seed
to unfold infinitely
orb ladders galaxies of jade
you sing and I bleed out slowly
The deeper I cut
around the same point
This is her poem called Split Bone:
like a porcupine quill pierces my ulcerated foot.
Decrepit I walk with wolverines
on the edge of the ice shelf. I neatly stitch
with two threads a cyst containing blood.
In the opposite poles of a cell a shallow alcove,
of the northern Pacific a right whale swims
in a rancid blue stew full of milk salmon
which feed brown bear. I transfuse quantum
in gradients of one minus energy, a closed universe,
foraging death in a another body, mixing with black
blood, I become a carrion beetle, bones outside.
A figure shaped like an inverted heart
stiffly mingling between body blue inuas spirits.
This is her Moon of the Returning Sun:
the living awaits destined relatives to retort.
These people go around waking the sleeping ones
when the weather is good: they wait for those
“In the beginning of the universe,
when you were young long ago,
the sky was dark and underneath us.
Down under there was no sun until
the world turned over and became
the sky we have now.”
It is said: Down under lived two wolves
who had two children, a boy and a girl.
From these wolves-of-part-man, all the people
came to be and multiplied.
I as wolf girl became weary of the light
dwell in darkness long time ago I was taken
away from Utqiagvik by the ones in black cloaks,
I wait for the universe to turn
wait for a reason to move the fetus in my womb
wait for Raven to bring back the sun
with a sealskin satchel
birch bark and pencil
wolf girl rewrites tundra
Bloom, H. Native American Women Writers. 1998.
Tohe, L. Sister Nations: Native American Women Writers On Community. 2002
|Layli Long Soldier
|dg nanouk okpikr