Picked Apart the Bones by Rebecca Hatcher Travis

Rebecca Hatcher Travis bases the poems in this exquisite collection on memories of her Chickasaw family and the Oklahoma landscapes that surrounded her as a child. Her poems also serve as testimonies to the ancestors who have passed on to the next life. 

Picked Apart the Bones won the 2006 First Book Award for Poetry from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Hatcher Travis, an enrolled citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, often writes of her indigenous heritage and the beauty of the natural world. Her poetry book manuscript, Picked Apart the Bones, won the First Book Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas and was published by the Chickasaw Press. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, literary journals and online. Ms. Travis is a member of Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers and lives in south central Oklahoma, near the land her ancestors settled in Indian Territory days. She is currently working on a new book of poetry

Getting to Know Heewon Azad

By Jiae Azad 

When my mother, Heewon Azad, left Korea for the California coast at the age of 23, she was going against expectations. Unlike all of her friends, she had no interest in marrying, having children, or settling down in a world she felt was patriarchal and in opposition to many of her beliefs. “Studying,” she said, “was my excuse. Grad school was my ticket out.” 

Although she did not know exactly what her path would look like, my mother was determined to dictate its direction. Many Korean women at the time, after attending college and getting their degree, were expected to return home and settle down with an eligible bachelor, as determined by their parents. Instead my mother resolved to stay in America and marry the man she loved: a Muslim immigrant from Bangladesh. 

Read more www.storiedperspectives.com/heewon-azad-tale-interracial-love-marriage

Embracing Difference

An an interview with author Terra Trevor 
by Jiae Azad 

Terra Trevor is a woman with varied roots. With Cherokee, Delaware, Seneca, and German ancestors occupying a place in her tangled family tree, Terra often felt that she fit in everywhere but also nowhere. Self described as a “rough around the edges mixed blood,” she lacked a neatly packaged identity, which eternally relegated her to a class of “outsider.” And like many of mixed descent but light skin, she grew up encouraged to “wear the face of a woman with light-skin privilege,” and blend in as best she could. However, Terra Trevor is not most people. Instead of complacently relying on her “light-skin privilege,” she embraced her outsider status. And with it, she discovered a gift – her ability to diffuse through cultural barriers. That gift informed her career as an author – she seeks out deep connections with other people and explores race, ethnicity, and culture in many of her works. 

Terra grew up in Southeast Los Angeles, near the rough areas of Paramount and South Downey, where mixed-race working class families surrounded her. 

Read more www.storiedperspectives.com/terra-trevor

Tending the Fire: Native Voices and Portraits

Tending the Fire by photographer Christopher Felver with an Introduction by Linda Hogan and a foreword by Simon J. Ortiz, celebrates the poets and writers who represent the wide range of Native American voices in literature today. In these commanding portraits, Felver’s distinctive visual signature and unobtrusive presence capture each artist’s strength, integrity, and character. Accompanying each portrait is a handwritten poem or prose piece that helps reveal the origin of the poet’s language and legends.

As the individuals share their unique voices, Tending the Fire introduces us to the diversity and complexity of Native culture through the authors’ generous and passionate stories, reminding us that “Native Americans today are as modern as the Space Age, and each in their own way carries forth the cultural heritage ‘from whence they came.’ Their abiding legacy as the first people of this continent has found its voice in the hard-won wisdom of their art and activism.

University of New Mexico Press

Featured authors include: Francisco X. Alarcón; Sherman Alexie; Indira Allegra; Paula Gunn Allen; Crisosto Apache; Annette Arkeketa; Jimmy Santiago Baca; Dennis Banks; Jim Barnes; Kimberly L. Becker; Duane Big Eagle; Sherwin Bitsui; Julian Talamantez Brolaski; Lauralee Brown; Joseph Bruchac; Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle; Elizabeth Cook-Lynn; Jonny Cournoyer; Alice Crow; Lucille Lang Day; Susan Deer Cloud; Ramona Emerson; Heid E. Erdrich; Louise Erdrich ; Pura Fé; Jennifer Elise Foerster; Eric Gansworth; Diane Glancy; Jewelle Gomez; Rain Gomez; Sequoyah Guess; Q.R. Hand, Jr.; Joy Harjo; Allison Hedge Coke; Travis Hedge Coke; Lance Henson; Trace Lara Hentz; Inés Hernández-Avila; Charlie Hill; Roberta Hill; Geary Hobson; Linda Hogan; LeAnne Howe; Andrew Jolivétte; em jollie; Joan Naviyuk Kane; Maurice Kenny; Bruce King; Sharmagne Leland-St.John; Chip Livingston; Charly Lowry; James Luna; Lee Marmon; Molly McGlennen; Russell Means; Deborah Miranda; Gail Mitchell; N. Scott Momaday; Catherine Nelson-Rodriguez; Linda Noel; dg nanouk okpik; Simon J. Ortiz; Laura Ortman; A. Kay Oxendine; Juanita Pahdopony; Evan Pritchard; Mary Grace Pewewardy; Ishmael Reed; Martha Redbone; Bobby J. Richardson; Ladonna Evans Richardson; Barbara Robidoux; Linda Rodriguez; Wendy Rose; Kurt Schweigman; Kim Shuck; Cedar Sigo; Leslie Marmon Silko; Arigon Starr; James Thomas Stevens; Inés Talamantez; Luci Tapahanso; Nazbah Tom; Cecil Taylor; Rebecca Hatcher Travis; David Treuer; Terra Trevor; Quincy Troupe; John Trudell; Gerald Vizenor; Elissa Washuta; Floyd Redcrow Westerman; Orlando White; Kim Wieser; Diane Wilson; Elizabeth A. Woody

Trouble Song

by Kim Shuck

Take hold of your stubborn
Twine fingers in your defiant
Dig in
Breathe deep into your
Make space for your heartbreak but let it start healing
We were walked from the east
We were packed into ships
We were sold by our families
We were illegal
We were hunted
We are here
We are always
We are
Sing that restless patience
Our inheritance
Take hold of hands
Take hold of your stubborn
Take hold
Take care
Take caring
Self brightly
Group with care
Hold tight and sing

© Kim Shuck. All rights reserved. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kim Shuck is feeling very scattered these days among the Executive Orders and banishments. She teaches 2nd graders most Thursdays, 4th graders some Wednesdays and college undergrads on Fridays. At other times she tries to reweave the fraying webs of communities that she loves. As for poetic qualifications… magazines, anthologies, solo books awards… degrees… years of working in the poetry mine. www.kimshuck.com

In the Veins: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects

POETRY | First Nations and American Indian Poets | Native Studies | History

In the Veins [Poetry: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects Book Series (Vol. 4)]

Refection of Veins from Dr. Carol A. Hand, Anishinabe poet:

We are inter-connected branching vessels 

carrying the pain of the earth back to source 

like the roots of the sacred cedar

to heal and breathe new life into being? 

Have we been forced deep underground, 

pressurized through the weight of suffering, 

to become a treasure sought by others

who don’t understand that we carry

healing powers in the wisdom of our ancestors?

Sacred life interwoven with sorrow, blood memory, in our very DNA

Poetry Editor, Patricia Busbee
Blue Hand Books Collective (amazon)

Loosening Our Tongue #WaterIsLife #RezspectOurLandbase #StandingRock

By Rain Prud’homme-Cranford (Goméz), Ph.D
These are things I need to say:
but language and words 
were ripped from my tongue 
Residential school 
Jim Crow feather
soldiers swarming 
our land our homes 
uprooting us from soil
roots dangling 
string fingers 
clinging to clutch 
clumps of Earth
These are things I need to say:
but mouth is dry 
arid fragile skin
opens bleeding
hollow space between 
tongue and teeth cracks 
from drought 
from poison water
These are things I need to say:
ancestors circle round
pepper spraying police 
choking our 
relatives’ throats
reaching to hold water 
slipping through fingers 
toes digging into 
brown dirt
These are things 
we need to say

Sing us home 
shatter violent silence 
come down rain 
churning rivers 
ocean waves
We ride a tempest of 
surging water

©Rain Prud’homme-Cranford 2016

Rain Prud’homme-Cranford (Goméz), Ph.D., is a“FatTastic IndigeNerd,” an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Literature in the Department of English and Affiliated Faculty in the International Indigenous Studies Program at the University of Calgary. A Poetry Editor for Mongrel Empire Press (MEP) and an Editorial Board member for The Journal of Louisiana Creole Studies, Rain won the First Book Award in Poetry from NWCA (2009), for Smoked Mullet Cornbread Crawdad Memory (MEP 2012).  Critical and creative work can be found in various journals including: The Southern Literary Journal, Louisiana Folklife, Undead Souths: The Gothic and Beyond (LSU P), Mississippi Quarterly, Tidal Basin Review, Sing: Indigenous Poetry of the Americas, As Us, Yellow Medicine Review, and many others.

Rock Collection

By César Love

I seek escape, not in smoke
Not in drink
But in rocks I’ve gathered

None are boulders, few are pebbles
The perfect mass gorges my two hands

Hardness is my comfort, density my high.

The Black One brings me to outer space
The Purple, a utopian palace
The Orange, a feast devoured slowly
The Grey, a ferry to oblivion

My comedown is softness
Reality, a sinkhole in feathers

Below my pillow
I keep an opal

Always the Land

When the storms end, he is quiet to all but the deaf

Many hear the whispers of streams, the mumbles of rivers 
But below the threshold of a lapping pond
There are sounds as soft as a tadpole’s heartbeat

At volumes quieter than grass
The land delivers a wordless sermon
You are free to leave before the end, for the sermon has no end

Can you bear the spastic stillness?
If you can listen for ten minutes, you are free to ask a question.
If you can listen for an hour, you can ask for anything you need.

Ask what about your bees?
The trellis on your porch, broken by the eight-foot weeds
It’s painted and repaired, ready for the blossoms
To greet the sun and moon, ready for the blossoms
To welcome back the bees.
Listen to the honey spinning into gold

Ask what about the blackout?
Remember the fireflies you caught so long ago?
You hid them in a basement jar.
Realize you’re one of them.
Hands unlock the lid, hands let all of you free.
Listen to the land echoing your glow

Lake Chabot

Castro Valley, California

Blue water, mirror of day
Show us the breadth of the sky

Dark water, mirror of night
How lovely the moon on your throat

Sweet water, ripples and tides
Ladles of kisses
The brush of your tongue moistens our clay

Deep water, so certain the currents
Sleepless their movement
Sleepless your will

Still water, gentle the splashes
So peaceful your power
So quiet creation

The Sprinklers

Surprised on sunny park grass
The intrusion of sprinkler water
Hidden fountains meant for moonlight
Let loose by mistimed dials

An accidental shower
Perhaps you scamper from the grass
Safe and only a little wet
Perhaps they give you a hearty splash

Soaked or dry
Savor the wet sparklers
The cool of deepsome wells

This is not the Alhambra
This is not Niagara
Small rainbows

The rise and fall of water drops
An arc of musical notes
Spiring to the sky
In love enough
To fall to Earth.

© César Love. All rights reserved.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: César Love writes poems about displacement and the search for home. He can be found at open mics of the San Francisco Bay Area. His new book of poems is titled Birthright

I Learned All My Spanish in School

By E.K. Keith

I never tried to pass for White
but I have been passed
because it's good to be White in America
and Mother knows best
to give a not-quite-white baby
White names that don't explain
such dark eyes and such tight curls
My name never stopped mean girls hissing
gringa cola prieta and guera and taco
brown on the inside
and not-quite-white on the outside

You would not believe how White people talk
about Other people when they think you're White
How it's more polite to say Spanish
instead of Mexican
and the subtle shift in tone
when your Mexican is discovered
your tortillas uncovered
I never tried to pass for White
but I have been passed
because White people who like me
want to give me the benefit of the doubt
and let me tell you, sister
There's nothing like White Privilege
and my mother knew it
So when people would ask
"Are you Italian or Greek?"
she would laugh and say
"Good guess!"
It is so disappointing
such dark eyes and such tight curls
fail to fit in
not White, not Mexican

I have been passed
I identify as White Trash
My mother is Mexican
but her family doesn't mind
porque no hay indios in la familia
And since I learned all my Spanish in school
it was years before I understood
It's good to be White in America

Mythic Arcade

When I was a kid in Texas
California was nothing but a dream
Not much more than a metaphor
A fantasy of golden glitz and the big screen

I bet you know a lot about Texas
I bet I know what you’ve seen
Alamo heroes, political zeroes
Ten-gallon hats and oil patch schemes

You can find surfers in Texas
Riding in the oil tanker’s wake
You can find California cowboys
They’re speeding up and down the interstate

You can’t see Texas from the inside
You can’t see the mythic arcade
Just people, running for the money
Inside California it’s the same

If you need roots, go to Texas.
If you don’t belong where you are
You might find the right place is California
Who you want to be is who you are


Brown sparrows
sift trash from a dump
find treasure
in mounds of rotting food
plastic wrappers aluminum
cans rusting toasters
shitty diapers hairdryers
headless dolls sideways
refrigerators without doors

One brown sparrow
beats its wings in the dirt
and tangles tighter
in a six-pack plastic noose

© E.K. Keith. All rights reserved. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: E.K. Keith shouts her poems on the street corner, and she’s just as likely to take the mic at a bar, coffee shop, or radio station. She has made San Francisco her home, although growing up in urban Texas still influences her worldview. Like most Americans, there is nothing pure about E.K.’s blood. As a result of love that mooningly ignored good sense and social boundaries across several generations, E.K. has never fit neatly into any racial, cultural, or ethnic categories. Her work appears online and in print on all three coasts and places in between, and among them are Sweet Wolverine, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, and Nerve Cowboy. E.K. organizes Poems Under the Dome, San Francisco's annual open mic celebration of Poetry Month inside City Hall. She is a public high school teacher librarian which regularly presents opportunities for her to make the world a better place.

"We have stories / as old as the great seas / breaking through the chest / flying out the mouth, / noisy tongues that once were silenced, /all the oceans we contain / coming to light." —Linda Hogan

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