Friday, November 07, 2008

A Poetry Friday Post for Native American Heritage Month

I Sherman Alexie!

I previously posted one of the two following poems by Sherman Alexie at Blue Rose Girls. November is Native American Heritage Month and The Powwow at the End of the World is one of my favorite poems--so I'm posting it again. The second poem is entitled How to Write the Great American Indian Novel. I have also included links to Iowa Review's 2001 Interview with Sherman Alexie and a video of Alexie's appearance on The Colbert Report.

I think Sherman Alexie is a brilliant writer. If you haven’t read his young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, get thee to a book store or library and get thyself a copy. It’s a wonderful book--and deserving of the all the awards it has received.



From The Powwow at the End of the World
by Sherman Alexie

I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after an Indian woman puts her shoulder to the Grand Coulee Dam
and topples it. I am told by many of you that I must forgive
and so I shall after the floodwaters burst each successive dam
downriver from the Grand Coulee. I am told by many of you
that I must forgive and so I shall after the floodwaters find
their way to the mouth of the Columbia River as it enters the Pacific
and causes all of it to rise. I am told by many of you that I must forgive
and so I shall after the first drop of floodwater is swallowed by that salmon
waiting in the Pacific. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after that salmon swims upstream, through the mouth of the Columbia
and then past the flooded cities, broken dams and abandoned reactors
of Hanford.

You can read the rest of the poem here.


From How to Write the Great American Indian Novel
by Sherman Alexie

All of the Indians must have tragic features: tragic noses, eyes, and arms.
Their hands and fingers must be tragic when they reach for tragic food.
The hero must be a half-breed, half white and half Indian, preferably from a horse culture.
He should often weep alone.
That is mandatory.
If the hero is an Indian woman, she is beautiful.
She must be slender
and in love with a white man.
But if she loves an Indian man
then he must be a half-breed, preferably from a horse culture.
If the Indian woman loves a white man, then he has to be so white
that we can see the blue veins running through his skin like rivers.
When the Indian woman steps out of her dress, the white man gasps
at the endless beauty of her brown skin.

You can read the rest of the poem here.
(P. S. I'm not sure all the line breaks are correct in this poem.)
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At Wild Rose Reader, I have a not-yet-ready-for-prime-time autumn list poem.

Jone has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Check It Out.

5 comments:

Sara said...

I hadn't seen that second one before. It made me laugh out loud (I'm embarrassed to say at which line...) but he's dead serious, too, which I love. That's me, reading Alexie: think, laugh, think, think, laugh, think. I finished Reservation Blues and I'm going to read Flight as soon as my revisions are done.

Elaine Magliaro said...

Sara,

You're so right about reading Alexie's work. I think and laugh--and laugh and think. I've got to buy all of his poetry collections.

Cloudscome said...

He can take a cliche and make it astounding in slap-my-face truth and beauty. That is genius.

Elaine Magliaro said...

Cloudscome,

He can be both funny and darkly serious in his writing. He is truly gifted. You're right about what he do with a cliche.

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