When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through

Edited by Joy Harjo. Norton, $19.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-393-35680-9
This comprehensive anthology presents the work of 161 Native American poets from nearly 100 indigenous nations and spanning from the 15th century to the present. Each section represents a different region of the United States and is introduced with information about the Nations that live there. The poetic styles and personal experiences are endlessly variable and consistently fresh. In “Shrinking Away,” Jim Northrup recalls his struggle with PTSD after serving in Vietnam: “Survived the war/ but was having trouble/ surviving the peace.” Samuel Sixkiller (1877–1958) attended the Carlisle Indian School, where he was class poet in 1895. His ode “To Class ’95” represents the tension of the school’s assimilationist project and the longing for home: “When shall the culture, the art and refinement/ Drive from our minds, roving thoughts of the past?/ Shall broad education, or savage confinement,/ Conquer the Red Man now fading so fast?” Tommy Pico and Natalie Diaz represent the newest generation, who honor those who came before while providing a look at life on the reservation today. Across centuries, regions, languages, and styles, this well-crafted anthology is perfect for Native American poetry courses and anyone looking to expand their knowledge of indigenous literature. (Aug)
Reviewed on : 05/20/2020
Release date: 08/25/2020
Genre: Poetry
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