Our Songs Came Through: A Celebration of Native Nations Poetry
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Inspired by When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through, an Anthology of Native Nations Poetry.
Late last fall, United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo along and Jennifer Elise Foerster edited a new groundbreaking anthology of more than 160 poets, representing nearly 100 Indigenous nations, in a comprehensive Native poetry anthology. This landmark anthology celebrates the Indigenous peoples of North America, the first poets of this country, whose literary traditions stretch back centuries.
Two of the contributors, Tacey M. Atsitty and Layli Long Soldier, will read from their own poetry and highlight the writings of other emerging Indigenous poets. This reading will be followed by a moderated conversation where audience members can also ask their own questions.
Water levels have bled out,
like it had just bitten its lip
& was about to swell— then rip:
had I paid better attention to drought,
listened more to the stars and stayed
with mountain clouds, I’d have let go
of the knot swing hanging above the slow
life flow beneath my legs, I’d have prayed
to forget all the times he came to me
but not wanted me: how fast it rises,
carrying plumes of pang in undercurrent:
swirls of sediment & silt around my knees—
the dragging stalks and leaves of irises,
how pathetic they look breaking in torrent—
Copyright Tacey M. Atsitty
by Layli Long Soldier
my first try I made a hit it dropped from morning gray the smallest shadow both wings slipped
inward mid-flight the man barked Now I shot again and again a third time with each arrow
through the target I thought was it luck or was it skill luck or skill as the last one fell
its awkward shape made me run there pulsing on the ground I was astounded by its size a
gangly white goose throbbed heaved its head my eyes dropped blood flowers opened in the
snow of its neck behind my shoulder stepping down from a yellow bus
child made their way across the field I shot once more to end it quickly close range its death
did I do this to spare the bird from suffering or to spare the children the sight my motives in
humid cold yes my knuckles in the cold steamed bright red
because on my stomach in grass in rubber boots pockets and vests I slid along with that hunter I
did as he directed from quiver my draw my black lashes in steely eyed release it felt good there
it felt strong my breath in autumn was an animal there I thought did I really do this did I
really yet what difference is muscle is an arrow powered upward or any flight to center when I
did not hear it though I clearly mouthed poor thing poor thing poor thing
Layli Long Soldier, "Talent" from WHEREAS. Copyright © 2017 by Layli Long Soldier. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press, graywolfpress.org.