Friday, December 03, 2010

Fresh! From Salt's Earthworks Series

(From Amazon)

Calling upon the personal memories and ancestral antecedents of her Anishinaabe family heritage, Molly McGlennen writes poems for Fried Fish and Flour Biscuits that render the continuance and celebration of the complex realities of Native American life in the 21st century. The collection of finely rendered lyrical and narrative pieces recounts the story of physical and spiritual nourishment, as the poet begins by telling her readers that her poems, like family recipes, are best served aloud, shared as gifts, and regarded as pieces of gratitude to be given away. Telling us how “memories flesh her fully,” McGlennen paints an intricate but compassionate picture of growing up “away from the lakes that have always fed her family,” and of urban life where she and the neighbor kids shoot hoops in alleyways and “fall asleep in the backs of old cars.” Operating as a sort of give-away, McGlennen’s collection weaves childhood memories, family histories, and present-day memorials as a means to forge paths of continuance of Indigenous culture. Narratives range from the connective trails of blueberry picking and walleye fishing, to the tragic freeways of protesting an execution at San Quentin, to the regenerative passageways of falling in love and giving birth. Finally, through the gesture of feeding “those networks of connection,” each poem invigorates the life-ways inherent in sustaining cultural relationships even when one finds herself a great distance from her home.


My body remembers
the time we rolled out dough
for two days.
Flour hands
salted heat
a kitchen like fire.
Careful not to pat it
too thin,
biscuits should fill
empty stomachs
you tell me.
No more school
after fourth grade—
what’s a little girl to do
but listen
and follow the mark
of a hand,
hear a history
punctuated by story,
when your mother
would whisper hers
in between scaling
and gutting
the walleye,
ashamed to admit
how lakes
had always fed her family
how she had married
a pale Frenchman
moved away from the water.
So you
a daughter once removed
now stands next to me—
says history doesn’t have to mean
coming over in a boat,
says this is how
you feed a family:
until your hands and arms ache
until your body remembers
the blood in its lines
like fried fish
and flour biscuits.

(Book excerpt) Molly McGlennen

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