Thursday, May 17, 2012

Native American Women's Poetry

Great Lakes Girls by Teri Greeves
Drunken Boat No. 15 features several Native women poets including Natalie Diaz, Natanya Ann Pulley, Joan Kane, dg okpik, Jennifer Foerster, Diane Glancey, Erika Wurth, Erin Bad Hand,Kateri Menominee  and Kimberly Becker, among others.  Layli Long Soldier, who edited the portfolio, writes in her introduction:   

Working with the poems in this folio, I remembered the introduction to Reinventing the Enemy’s Language—an anthology of contemporary Native women’s writings of North America. There, Joy Harjo wrote, “The literature of the aboriginal people of North America defines America. It is not exotic. The concerns are particular, yet often universal. Anyone of these lands shares in the making of this literature, this history, these connections, these songs. It is a connection […] constructed of the very earth on which we stand.” Harjo wrote this in the 90s and I mused on how to introduce the works in this, Drunken Boat’s collection, nowRead the rest here.

Monday, April 30, 2012

2012 Lifetime Achievement Award Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas


LeAnne Howe (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma), author of fiction, poetry, screenplays, creative non-fiction, plays, and scholarly articles, is the winner of the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas. A well respected and honored author, LeAnne Howe’s books include Shell Shaker (2001), winner of an American Book Award in 2002 from the Before Columbus Foundation; Equinoxes Rouge, the French translation of Shell Shaker, a 2004 finalist for Prix Medici Estranger, (one of France’s top literary awards); Evidence of Red (2005), winner of an Oklahoma Book Award in Poetry and Wordcraft Circle Award in 2006; and Howe’s most recent novel, the acclaimed Miko Kings: An Indian Baseball Story (2007) was the 2009-2010 Read-In Selection at Hampton University in Hampton Virginia.

Howe is screenwriter and on-camera narrator for the 90-minute PBS documentary Indian Country Diaries: Spiral of Fire (2006); she is also writer/co-producer of Playing Pastime: American Indian Fast-Pitch Softball and Survival, both documentaries with James Fortier (a three-time Emmy award winner filmmaker). Her scholarly work has appeared in Clearing a Path: Theorizing the Past in Native American Studies (2001), Pre-removal Choctaw History: Exploring New Paths (2008) and Reasoning Together: Native Critics Collective (2008), for which Howe is listed as a co-author. Reasoning Together was named one of the most influential Native texts of the first decade of the 21st century.

In 2010-11, Howe was a J. William Fulbright Scholar at the University of Jordan, Amman, where she taught in the graduate program as well as conducted research for a new novel. In March 2011, she was awarded the Tulsa Library Trust’s “American Indian Author Award” in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education named Howe one of 30 American Indians authors to celebrate during Native American Heritage Month, November 2011. Additionally, Howe’s multi-genre autobiographical and scholarly prose essay, “My Mothers, My Uncles, Myself” appears in Here First: Autobiographical Essays by Native American Writers (2001), and her scholarly work on Tribalography[1] (a term she coined) has found traction with other literary critics in the field such as professors Dean Rader, Jill Doerfler, Joseph Bauerkemper, among others. 


Monday, April 23, 2012

Red Riot: Emerging Native American Voices and Poetics by Natanya Ann Pulley

Bunky Echo Hawk 'Colonizer Bunny'
Natanya Ann Pulley guest blogs on 'Girls in a Tight Place.'  Read all about it HERE

Excerpt:  I began to write non-fiction without the pressure to speak to/for a people held in, between or from tradition. I wrote for me: the me that threw my arms up and said, I don’t know how to do any of it! How to recover a heritage—how to speak to a past time—how to hold it all together. My mother left the Navajo reservation when she was five to live with an LDS family in the Indian Placement Program.  There is too much in that one line for any one story, for one book, for one life. There is too much in it and I have learned to respect it. To respect that it is a still-beating thing. That my heritage shifts in color, size, texture. It sings many songs and continually cuts its own legs off to start again. It boils to steam and drifts to airs and comes back to me in rain, wind, in breath. In smog.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Today I was thrilled (trill-worthy!) to see Dine author and fellow co-editor Natanya Ann Pulley's "An Open Letter to Johnny Depp's Tonto" published in McSweeney's Internet Tendency. This is major coup (yes, a pun!) for Native writers; we don't often see our names published in mainstream publications and most certainly not in this context--a letter of protest, but a really scathingly funny, clever and dare I say, non-confrontational, letter of protest.

For any of you just tuning in Natanya and I have been compiling submissions for "Good Medicine: A Native Anthology of Humor" to be published by Lost Horse Press. This is a photo of me posing next to my inner bitch, and this is a photo of Baby Natanya posing with a glob of green
slime, or maybe her lunch? Who am I to question the traditional Navajo cuisine.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Big Poetry Giveaway

I'm taking part in the 2012 Big Poetry Giveaway created by the poet Kelli Russell Agodon for National Poetry Month.

When I first heard Giveaway I thought, "It's too early for the Oil Celebration!" Giveaways --also called potlatch by the Northwest Coast tribes -- are big happenings in Indian country.

But for this giveaway I'm taking part in the Book of Kells 2012 Big Poetry Giveaway created by poet Kelli Russell Agodon for National Poetry Month. I'll be giving away a copy of my book "Outlaws, Renegades and Saints," published by Greenfield Review Press and a copy of the groundbreaking anthology "Without Reservation; Indigenous Erotica," edited and published by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm of Kegedonce Press.

Want to win? Just leave a comment on this post now through April 30 and I'll draw winners out of my medicine basket for each book during the week of May 1. To see the full list of poet bloggers taking part in the giveaway, visit Kelli's blog, Book of Kells.

About the books:

Being a mixed-blood is no easy road, and Tiffany Midge makes her art from the collision of irreconcilables. The writing is sometimes funny and heart stopping at the same time: “It’s my birthday. I ask my mother, ‘when I grow up will I be a full-blooded Indian?’” Midge’s poetry is informed by an in-your-face refusal either to romanticize her life, or to accept the place that has been “assigned” to Indian peoples: to accept extinction: “listen/can you hear the dead talking?/They are saving and resurrecting us all.” ~ from Oyate

At the Oil Celebration Powwow


At the oil celebration powwow give-

aways are the gift that keeps on giving.

The Indians true to their traditions continue

to give what the whites have taken from them—


food when they were starving

blankets when they were freezing

clothing when they were naked


Ethel Iron Thunder gives a Pendleton wrap to Minnie Spotted Elk/

Minnie Spotted Elk gives a star quilt to Silas Tail Spins/

Silas Tail Spins gives 20 lbs of frozen venison to Victoria Walking Child/

Victoria Walking Child gives a case of chokecherry preserves to John & Myra Two Feathers/

John & Myra Two Feathers gives Cain Long Bow $100 towards his college tuition/

Cain Long Bow gives Alice Brought Plenty 10 yards of bargain basement fabric/

Alice Brought Plenty gives Ruby Savior a plastic bag of accumulated Copenhagen chew-top-lids/

Ruby Savior gives Mary & Victor Red Wing a beaded cradleboard for their new arrival /

Mary & Victor Red Wing gives Scarlet Comes At Night their family’s secret frybread recipe/

Scarlet Comes At Night gives Ethel Iron Thunder insulated rabbit fur slippers and matching

blue mittens and scarf.


Define Indian giver in 10 words or less:

All of the above.


Grandma Iron Thunder tells me

that Giveaways are to Indians

what Christmas is to white people.

~Tiffany Midge "Outlaws, Renegades and Saints"

Without Reservation
Edited By Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm Co-Published with Huia Publishers, New Zealand.

Poetry by Joy Harjo, Sherman Alexie, Jack Forbes, and Richard Van Camp among many others.
The writing in the anthology is overwhelmingly contemporary, although some stories and poems are based on old tales. Ipellie,an Inuit writer based in Ottawa, is one such spinner of tales, including Summit with Sedna, the Mother of Sea Beasts, a story about the coupling of an Inuit shaman and the mythological underwater creature called Sedna. Other stories are thoroughly modern, including 'Year of the Dog', a hilarious and ribald tale about some porno addicts in the contemporary Northwest Territories.

We Can See It With Our Eyes Closed ~ by Joy Harjo

You ask me what I am thinking when we make love
and our eyes are closed and the sun is climbing halfway
to the roof and the neighborhood dogs are all in love
with the spirit dog who makes the rounds and tortures them
with dreams of hills and running with the smell of heat
and then the train adds to the song of progress
making a web from city to city,
backdoor to backdoor and I know it is possible to
fly without complications of metal and engineering
and all the payoffs, paybacks and terrible holes
in the earth and here we are in the territory of the wind,
surrounded by devils and thieves, forgotten by a trickster god
who has a wicked sense of humor
yet there is something quite compelling
about this skin we're in, a solid planet of gases and water
doesn't tell the whole story. I am intrigued by cloud
language and see you approaching as a red flower in a meadow
of yellow, or you are an apparition of rain just before or after
a famine of butterflies. We make an electrical reaction
like carbon dioxide, and did I remember to blow out
the candles lit for those who are dying and are leaving
or will leave this place? Grief is a land of wet tenderness. We are all
dying and will leave a trail like the plane jetting east in the direction
that becomes all directions, become all the millions of souls here together
looking for god or a little something to eat,
all of us blown away by the mystery of nothingness
as we shop in the streets for trinkets or bread.
We've been here before, thinking in skin and our pleasure
and pain feeds the plants, makes clouds. I see it with my eyes
closed. It's so beautiful. There's the telephone.

The UGH: Uncivilized Grunting Heathen drawing is open from now through ALL OF APRIL, National Poetry Month!

If you'd like to be entered, please leave your name and email address by midnight, APRIL 30th, 2012 in the comment section of this post and I'll be drawing 2 lucky winners for the books during the week of May 1st, 2012.

Good luck & Good Read