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Poetry, Indigenous Peoples' Day
Today in Vermont, we celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day, joining fifteen states and a few cities and towns in this holiday. This provides the perfect opportunity to highlight a recent anthology of poetry and a book about a Native American high school student, as well as mention a few more Native American authors. No matter what your town calls today's holiday, we hope it finds you healthy, employed, and in search of some great books to read.
When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through edited by Jo Harjo (2020). If ever there was a title designed for covid-19, I believe this is it. The light of the world is subdued by the news of late; and, I believe that songs, poetry, and books illuminate. The anthology attached to this title curates centuries of poetry from indigenous peoples of North America for us all to contemplate and enjoy. The collection is divided into five geographically organized sections, each with an introduction from contributing editors who provide historical, tribal, geographical, and artistic contexts for the works in that section. Each poet is also introduced prior to their work. From historical entries such as Chief Seattle's speech in 1854 about the importance of ancestors, while rebuking government land treaties, to a poem about the completely modern task of getting mileage out of a very old car, these poems provide plenty to ponder and offer beams of hope. I initially found this collection through the Norwich Public Library. I liked it enough to purchase it from a local indie store for my high school senior to reference in his poetry class next term (and for all of us to enjoy). If you have a poetry collection, this makes an excellent addition. If you don't yet have a collection, this would be a great place to start. ~ Lisa Christie
Counting Coup by Larry Colton (2001) - We relaize it has been almost 20 years since this exploration of the lives of one group of Montana's Crow Indians, through the lens of a basketball playing teen, captured our attention. And yet, it still springs to mind when we think of books about Native American experiences in the USA, just as much as more recent books by Louise Erdrich or Sherman Alexie. In this book, Mr. Colton follows the struggles of a talented, moody, and charismatic young woman basketball player named Sharon. This book far more than just a sports story however – it exposes how Native Americans have long since been cut out of the American dream. It was also most recently reviewed in our post - A Fiction Book List for Today (and yes, we recognize it's not fiction). ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie