From time to time I like to feature here writers whom I really think we should all be reading.
Today I’m featuring the poets of Effigies II, Effigies II: An Anthology of New Indigenous Writing, Pacific Rim (Earthworks), edited by a major poet whom I greatly admire, Allison Adelle Hedge Coke. Allison and I share a Tsalagi background; she has been generous and kind to me, as I know she is to everyone. This anthology is part of her constant attention to the legacy of Native American poetry. What can you say of a woman who can convince officials to save an ancient sacred site by reading her poetry, written in the voices of the land and river, to them? You would trust her judgement about what is necessary reading, right? So I do, and so should we all. Meet the wonderful young poets of Effigies II.
Laura Da’ is a poet and public school teacher. A lifetime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Da’ studied creative writing at the University of Washington and The Institute of American Indian Arts. Da’ is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. She has published poems in Prairie Schooner, Hanging Loose, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. Her first chapbook, The Tecumseh Motel, was published Effigies II. The University of Arizona Press will publish her first full-length manuscript, Tributaries, in 2015. Da’ lives near Seattle with her husband and son.
Laura’s description of her work:
I am so pleased and honored to be included in Effigies II. My chapbook is called The Tecumseh Motel, and it examines many of the themes, ideas, and images that inform and inspire my work as a poet. I am particularly drawn to using image, lyricism, and synthesis to examine the contemporary consequences of the past. Many of the poems in Effigies II deal with Shawnee history and historical misrepresentation.
I am anticipating my first book length manuscript which is forthcoming in the spring of 2015 from the University of Arizona Press. It is called Tributaries and it elaborates many of the themes included in The Tecumseh Motel. Right now, I am working on a new manuscript as well. The impetus of this project is the lyrical examination of the diverse consequences of the mapping of the American West and the Period of Indian Removal.
I feel inspired by many places. Some of the key locations that are important to my life and poetry are: the Pacific Northwest where I live, the Southwest, Oklahoma, and the historical landscapes of Ohio and Kansas.
Laura’s new book can be preordered here:
Laura is joined in Effigies II by KristI Leora Gansworth, who sent me the following answers to my questions about her work:
How does your work in Effigies II compare to or represent other work
I feel like Dark Swimming is a type of treatise that helped me to
negotiate a lot of the past that I have felt ashamed to come from in
some respects. It is young work and it’s also work that I needed to
do in order to sort of activate my voice, in a way that was consistent
with other awakenings experienced as the chapbook emerged and was
edited. It seems in hindsight like the process of writing Dark
Swimming was a way of confronting the page and the pen and making
peace with the way that I have tried to represent myself through those
means, having gained different understandings of communication as
spoken and immediate and perhaps at other times, not verbal, not
translatable through language, and certainly not through English.
Through the book there is a major change in geography, from the
Niagara region to the Pacific Northwest which was a giant shift that
had to do with the kind of waking up I needed to do in order to
re-frame my existence.
What other projects are you working on?
One of my mentors, Roger Fernandes, has been helping me develop
confidence and strength with traditional storytelling. I live on the
traditional territories of nəxʷsƛ̕ay̕əm, The Strong People, Roger’s
tribe. The stories and strength I have witnessed are awe-inspiring-so
much gratitude to be in this ancestral home surrounded by so much
beauty. There are also beadwork and wood-burning projects which keep
me grounded and help me to remediate homesickness for family.
Recently a new vision emerged, so I am developing a process to curate
a collaborative, interdisciplinary installation that embodies physical
representations showing effects of industrial development on creation
stories and Indigenous worldviews. With others, there is also a
collaborative piece in the works related to land use, aboriginal title
and advocacy for hydroelectric dam removal. I am wrapping up a new
volume of poems and looking to get some of that out soon.
Which places matter most to you, and how do they inform your work?
I come from a water clan and my ancestral name means Painted Turtle,
so water is essential to everything I do (true for everyone, of
course) My spirit is very alive on shores, beaches, wetlands, creeks,
and of course in the water, swimming. I have a deep love for old
growth forest and places where trees and plants are gigantic. Also I
enjoy places where there is unobstructed and open sky, free of lights
and wires and beams and those sorts of things. Some people can write
and find peace anywhere-that is admirable, and I know that for myself
personally it is important to have physical access to water and wild
plants, and also to be limited in how much the histories of
development and technology are in my face and affecting my body
throughout the day.
From time to time I may add to this post, so check back often.