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                 Native Writers

            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:

              to help the enemy
              She casts language about, thinking herself
              in control
              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:

              Mangled went to jail for cutting a man across the

              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
            Surrealist conversation."

            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:

              Just as a chrysanthemum
              petals radiate from one orbit seed
              you continue
              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:

              A break in the blood vessel from 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:

              A view from two sides of Polaris, it is said:
              the living awaits destined relatives to retort.
              These people go around waking the sleeping ones
              when the weather is good: they wait for those

              Kainnaaq said,
              “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
              around again,
              wait for a reason to move the fetus in my womb
              wait for Raven to bring back the sun
              for recovery/extraction
              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
              M.L. Smoker
              Sherwin Bitsui (Navajo)

              Bitsui is the author of Shapeshift and Flood Son. He
              holds a BA from the University of Arizona and an AFA
              in Creative Writing from the Institute of American
              Indian Arts. He is the recipient of a Truman Capote
              Creative Writing Fellowship, an Individual Poet
              Grant From the Witter Bynner Foundation for
              Poetry, and a Lannan Foundation Marfa Residency.
              Layli Long Soldier
              dg nanouk okpikr