Monday, August 30, 2010

Poetry Mix Tape: Poetry by Native Americans

It's been a busy week, what with the return to work and all, so I'm tardy in my creation of a Poetry Mix Tape. My inspiration for this week's theme, Poetry by Native Americans, came after reading a poem by the award-winning author and poet Sherman Alexie. It was a beautiful, moving piece. There was only one problem--I couldn't remember where I'd found it. I knew I read it within the last couple weeks, but wasn't sure if it had been online or in one of the anthologies I checked out from the library.

After much searching, I finally found it. And I was glad I did:

I Would Steal Horses  
By Sherman Alexie 
For Kari

for you, if there were any left,
give a dozen of the best
to your father, the auto mechanic
in the small town where you were born

and where he will die sometime by dark.
I am afraid of his hands, which have
rebuilt more of the small parts
of this world than I ever will.

I would sign treaties for you, take
every promise as the last lie, the last
point after which we both refuse the exact.

I would wrap us both in old blankets
hold every disease tight against our skin.
(I apologize for posting the entire poem; I couldn't resist. You can find copyright info and the entire poem here.)

So I went on to spend some of my free time this week hunting for poems for this week's mix tape. I came across many new poems by poets that were both familiar and new to me. It was challenging because it's an area of poetry that I don't have much of a experience with. And also because there's no one place on the net where Native American poems can be accessed. They're spread out quite a bit. I guess that's why I like this mix tape project. It lets me search far and wide for poems that fit my theme and then compile them in one place for perpetuity.

Please, if you know of any poems that fit this week's theme, post them to the comments. The more, the better. And while I think of it, teachers out there, feel free to encourage your students to participate in this little weekly project. The Poetry Mix Tape has no age limits!

So here is my Poetry by Native American Poets Mix Tape:

"What is Broken Is What God Blesses" by Jimmy Santiago Baca
"Blankets of Bark" by Sherman Bitsui
"The Girl Who Loved the Sky" and "Song of Our Times" by Anita Endrezze
"When the World Ended as We Knew It" by Joy Harjo
"Blind Curse" and "Culture and the Universe" by Simon J. Ortiz
"Ash" and "Birth" by Elise Paschen (scroll down to find them)
"Hoola Hand" by Henry Real Bird (scroll down here, too)
"I Was Sleeping Where the Black Oaks Move" and "Captivity" by Louise Erdrich

I know this is my biggest mix tape so far, but I couldn't narrow it down. I didn't have many poems by Native American poets in my mental database to begin with, so I really wanted to push myself to come up with a good number of them. I hope you find the time to look through some or all of them. And please add your contributions to the mix tape in the Comments section.

1 comment:

  1. Hi B.C.! Nice mix. I have poems by Chrystos and Joy Harjo (and links to other NA poems) here: