Okay, so I'm just about a month late with this post. The AWP 2019 in Portland was the site of not one, but TWO great gatherings to celebrate and discuss this new anthology, Native Voices: Indigenous American Poetry, Craft and Conversation from Tupelo Press. I was excited to be asked by Tupelo to be part of both gatherings, and arrived in Portland in plenty of time to prepare.
Unfortunately, due to a combination of cross-country travel, memory issues and various other little gremlins, I not only missed the AWP panel for anthology authors, but also the reading later in the afternoon. There are no words for the horror that I felt when I realized this mistake. A month later, I'm still feeling it. 😱
Still, we live in a time when people can be in two places at the same time, right? We have Skype and Face Time and all the other fun things give us powers we never would have dreamed of just a ten or twenty years ago. So I've decided to do a bit of time-traveling, and go back to do the job right.
I know. It's not quite the same thing. There's something very special about the energy created when writers and an audience come together to share literature. Energy is generated, too, by the encounter. But I also want to give something back to the organizers of the AWP events, to the co-panelists and readers who were left in the lurch, and to the anthology itself, which deserves more PR.
Along with my video, I'd like to throw out a challenge to other Native Voices authors - post a video of yourself reading from the book! Maybe we can even get a Youtube channel dedicated to a collection of such videos??
A word about the book's focus: this is not only a collection of Indigenous poetry, but a conversation about craft. Specifically, each participant was given the task of identifying another author - Native or non-Native - whose own work had influenced our own. We each chose one poem from that author, along with a few of our own that seemed to resonate with that inspiration, and then wrote an accompanying essay, a kind of conversation with that poet and their work, and our work.
Native Voices is really the first of its kind of Native writers, and the results are stunning. Reading each author's section is like having that writer all to yourself for a stimulating discussion of Native writing, our perspectives, what we love, who our heroes are, why we write, how we strive to be better, and most of all, the generosity of other writers in our lives.
Want to whet your appetite? Just browse this table of contents! Folks, it's seven. pages. long. The book blurb lists just a few:
Featuring forty-four poets, including , and .
Original influence essays by Diane Glancy on Lorca, Chrystos on Audre Lorde, Louise Erdrich on Elizabeth Bishop, LeAnne Howe on W. D. Snodgrass, Allison Hedge Coke on Delmore Schwartz, Suzanne Rancourt on Ai, and M. L. Smoker on Richard Hugo, among others.
This is a massive undertaking, and editors CMarie Fuhrman and Dean Rader have created a text that raises the bar on anthologies in general, let alone anthologies that provide context and craft behind Indigenous literatures.
Okay. Without any more ado, here is my contribution (click video link below the photo at the end of this blog). I didn't read all my poems (leaving something for readers to find) but I did talk a little about my essay describing my encounter with Wendy Rose's poem, "Excavation at Santa Barbara Mission," -- an encounter that I still carry with me (thank you, Wendy! 💕).
I hope you enjoy my apology, and this anthology.