Viva Escritora

Reporting from the bleacher seats …

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:

When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, by Joy Harjo (Editor)

Birchbark Books: Check out their Native Titles while you’re there. Viva has future goal to improve her understanding and knowledge of Native Nations.

Wear a mask.

Be kind.


4 thoughts on “Indigenous Peoples’ Day

  1. Gay Ruby says:

    A close, wonderful friend gave me “When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through” as a gift.

    I challenge you to find Roberta Hill Whiteman’s poem “Dream of Rebirth,” which contains the line “We need to be purified by fury” and Casandra Lopez’ poem “A New Language,” where you will find “… I want a new language. One with at least 50 words for grief and 50 words for love, so I can offer them to the living who mourn the dead…”

    1. Kewl. My friends give me good things too. And. Love. Love. Love. (p.46 & p.338). Just beautiful. Thank you. 🙏🏼

      Check out if you haven’t “There is no word for goodbye” p.188 and “Skinology” p.286-288.
      “They are marched
      to the molten core
      of the sun & then
      beamed back to
      their families,
      purified, whole
      & Holy as hell.”

  2. Susan says:

    This wonderful book is filled with pain and hope. Thanks to a friend for the gift of thinking, remembering, learning, and most of all kindling hope

    1. Yes! Thank you!

      I eventually hope to have read the whole book and am able to comment more on content than ‘context’ – ie, “here is a collection of indigenous poetry of which I’ve read a small % but it’s wonderful.” And instead can speak to the artistry, connections to nature, nurture, pain, hope and eons of hope (?) Yes! hope. I feel encouraged reading these poems. From the subdued a glimmer of light in the form of words sent out. 🙏🏼❤️

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