The Nature of Native American Poetry

By Norma C. Wilson | Go to book overview

Chapter 10
The New Generation

The number of Native American poets has at least doubled since the late sixties, when their poems were first anthologized. Forty-three poets are included in John E. Smelcer and D. L. Birchfield's Durable Breath ( 1994). Alongside early poems by established authors such as Robert Conley and James Welch are new poems by their contemporaries: Jim Barnes, Joseph Bruchac, Barney Bush, Anita Endrezze, Diane Glancy, Joy Harjo, Linda Hogan, Maurice Kenny, Duane Niatum, Nila northSun, Simon Ortiz, Carter Revard, Wendy Rose, and Ralph Salisbury. Also included are works by younger poets Sherman Alexie, Jeannette Armstrong, D. L. Birchfield, Kimberly Blaeser, E. K. Caldwell, Annie Hansen, Tiffany Midge, Cheryl Savageau, and Elizabeth Woody. This anthology gives overdue attention to poets from the north country. Of these, the poems of Cheryl Savageau, an Abenaki and French- Canadian writer, are the most remarkable. Rooted in the tradition of her Abenaki poet predecessor Joseph Bruchac, Savageau in To Human Skin remembers her father, whose "heart was green and growing, / as if he'd lived for centuries / an old forest tree man / rooted in the rocky soil / now called new england" (132). "Trees" pays tribute to her father, who taught her, as she is teaching her children, to love the white birch, "to lean / their cheeks against / the powdery white and hear / the heartbeat of the tree" (131). Savageau's

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