Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Is 'Native Erotica' an oxymoron?

I wanted to compile a list of Native publications with erotica as a theme. A few years ago, the erotic seemed to be conspicuously absent from the body of contemporary Native literature, as it were. Or it didn't have a large presence among the critical discourse or perspectives. Interestingly enough, it was vital and present in two-spirit writings; the first writer that comes to mind is Chrystos. There was never any question as to whether her poetry detailed the transcendent and sometimes harrowing aspects of relationships and sexuality.

Ojibway author Drew Hayden Taylor addresses the puzzling myth that Natives are asexual beings.
In his essay, "Indian Love Call," he writes: "In the vast majority of non-Native literature, Aboriginal characters, just as they never have a sense of humour, are rarely ever viewed as sexual beings. And if they are, their sexuality is not healthy. Kidnapping, rape and other assorted defilements are the order of the day on this particular pop culture menu. Tender love stories involving Native people are scarcer than priests at a residential school reunion."

In order to remedy this Taylor edited the anthology "Me Sexy: An Exploration of Native Sex and Sexuality."

Taylor writes: "If you’ve ever wondered about the relative abundance of pubic hair among women and men of the First Nations, you don’t have to feel alone anymore." Those are comforting words.

In 2003, Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm's press Kegedonce published "Without Reservations: Indigenous Erotica." Following this collection, Kegedonce has published several other amazing First Nations' poets running along this same theme of love and erotica. Poets such as Al Hunter's "The Recklessness of Love." And Joanne Arnott's "Steepy Mountain: Love Poetry.

University of Arizona's literary magazine "Red Ink," came out with an erotica edition in 2002 (Cover art above).

"Indigenous Erotica is political. More than that, it's stimulating, inspiring, beautiful, and sometimes explicit. It's written by indigenous writers, painted by Indigenous painters, filmed by Indigenous filmmakers, photographed by Indigenous photographers, sung by Indigenous singers." -- Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm

Perhaps encouraged or inspired by these collections and anthologies I put out the chapbook "Guiding the Stars to Their Campfire, Driving the Salmon to Their Beds."

Which I intended to act as balms to comfort hearts in danger of breaking. There is a meditative, dreamy quality to many of the poems and a commentary on many of our creation stories and myths.

But what is poetry if not love poetry; all poetry is love poetry isn't it?

sweetheart when we make love press brown skins & lovely bones together and are 2 halfbreed hearts grooving to the same fullblood dance we create not only a whole indian song (your chippewa chants to my lakota tune) but sweetheart in the dark we become the entire tribe -- Tiffany Midge

The poet Deborah Miranda wrote a compelling paper called "Dildos, Hummingbirds, and Driving Her Crazy: Searching for American Indian Women's Love Poetry and Erotics," which was inspired from the absence of Native poets in a course she enrolled in at the University of Washington called "Women's Love Poetry and Erotics." Much of Miranda's own poetry runs the gamut of love and erotica; her collections "The Zen of La Llorona," and "Indian Cartography," contain exquisite thresholds and pronouncements, celebrations and laments in the ways of love.

Love Poem to a Butch Woman

by Deborah A. Miranda

This is how it is with me:
so strong, I want to draw the egg
from your womb and nourish it in my own.
I want to mother your child made only
of us, of me, you: no borrowed seed
from any man. I want to re-fashion
the matrix of creation, make a human being
from the human love that passes between
our bodies. Sweetheart, this is how it is:
when you emerge from the bedroom
in a clean cotton shirt, sleeves pushed back
over forearms, scented with cologne
from an amber bottle—I want to open
my heart, the brightest aching slit
of my soul, receive your pearl.
I watch your hands, wait for the sign
that means you’ll touch me,
open me, fill me; wait for that moment
when your desire leaps inside me.

Mohawk poet Janet Rogers has just released a collection of spoken word called "Red Erotic." The book also features photographs of erotic works by eight Indigenous artists. Rogers has been up to a lot, blurring the line between performance, spoken word and written expression. She was featured in this interview at Black Coffee Poet.

I'm sure I've left out of excellent stuff and when I hear of new things I'll add them to my growing list.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Fresh! Florida Review; Native Issue

The new issue of Florida Review arrived at my doorstep when I got home from the holidays. Essays and poems and stories, Oh My! The issue is dedicated to Louis Owens and edited by Jocelyn Bartkevicius and Toni Jensen with cover art "Enchanted" by Marla Allison. The contents feature some of the usual suspects but also new emerging voices.

A special reading of the issue will be presented at the AWP at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C., and there will also be a panel of contributors for the conference, titled "A New Generation, a New Conversation."

I have two extra copies and if you write to me at Tiffanymidge@aol.com I will mail the first two lucky people who respond your very own copy! Free!

Here's the Table of Contents:


  1. Gerald Vizenor - Captain Eighty
  2. Allison Adelle HedgeCoke - Ai-ye Ai-ye
  3. Travis HedgeCoke - Alien in Nature
  4. Layli Long Soldier - Mockery
  5. Stephen Graham Jones - Girls
  6. Erika T. Wurth - Like a Phoenix
  7. Natanya Ann Sturgill-Pulley - The Way of Wounds
  8. Thomas Peacock - Soft Wind
  9. Melissa Michal - Phillip
  10. Geary Hobson - Arrowhead


  1. Stephen Graham Jones - Another Final Frontier
  2. Sara Marie Ortiz - Flight
  3. Sara Marie Ortiz - Penumbra and Thrum
  4. Tiffany Midge - Ten Ways to Consider the Great Spirit
  5. Tiffany Midge - Of Birds: Variations on a Theme
  6. Tiffany Midge - Indian Chat Room


  1. Orlando White - Empty Set
  2. Orlando White - f
  3. Orlando White - h
  4. Santee Frazier - Mangled in the Demolition Derby
  5. Santee Frazier - Twice Ruined
  6. Santee Frazier - The Skewered Face
  7. Sherwin Bitsui - from Flood Song
  8. Thomas Hubbard - A Few Old Stories
  9. Tacey M. Atsitty - Calico Prints
  10. Tacey M. Atsitty - Mothway
  11. Tacey M. Atsitty - S. Influenza
  12. Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán - arco iris
  13. Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán - each stone
  14. Kimberly L. Becker - La Doncella
  15. Alice Azure - August Offerings
  16. Susan Deer Cloud - You Are Driving North in November
  17. Susan Deer Cloud - Globe
  18. Chip Livingston - Come to the Den of My Hills
  19. Chip Livingston - A Proposal
  20. Chip Livingston - Mixed Blood at Catholic School
  21. Denise K. Lajimodiere - Dakota January
  22. Denise K. Lajimodiere - The Bush Dance
  23. Denise K. Lajimodiere - Father
  24. Sy Hoahwah - Allotment
  25. C.R. Resetarits - Flint Hills
  26. C.R. Resetarits - Territories
  27. Marianne A. Broyles - Going Out to Sea


  1. Native Poetry: A Conversation Between Santee Frazier and Sherwin Bitsui