Monday, October 12, 2020 – To honor the tone, timbre, and tenor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day and celebrate voices which have been marginalized, I recommend “When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry.”
The best protest
At a low point last month, I tripped across the tidbit that Joy Harjo is the first Native American United States Poet Laureate and I wondered “how can we NOT know this?”
And for once the story arc of 2020 is improved.
Joy Harjo edited a collection of poetry from more than 160 Native Nations poets organized by geography into the book “When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through.” And here we are, 2020. The light of the world is subdued. The COVID pandemic, the daily political s*its*ow, extrajudicial police violence, and on and on, this title struck me as a strong, sustainable protest for all time, any time.
I am a whiff of a waft in this moment. A dandelion seed. Dust in the wind. A data point on an orange crate bull-horning away in my little internet corner. By way of comparison, Columbus landed and thereafter the whole of indigenous people have been wronged and wronged and wronged mightily and all ways from Sunday but their voices persist and dissent and continue in darkness. And when we stop to consider our grievances and puny little sorrows, we are put to shame.
This book is for the ages. It is a timeless hymnal.
Interview with Joy Harjo on All Things Considered, NPR
This is a 7-minute interview with Joy Harjo discussing the anthology and reading a couple of poems: “Anthology of Native Nations Poetry Is a ‘Doorway,’ Says Editor Joy Harjo“
And when Ms. Harjo said they read all the poetry out loud, I thought, “Yass!” I want to hear all that too.
Here’s hoping. Hear’s hoping.
Purchase from an Independent Bookstore
If you purchase a copy of this anthology, buy from an independent bookstore. They ship. I used Birchbark Books in Minneapolis, Minnesota owned by Louise Erdrich, an enrolled Turtle Mountain Chippewa. (Source: birchbarkbooks.com/ourstory).
Wear a mask.