Missing Robert J. Conley

24 Feb
February 24, 2014

The other night—when sadness had a heavy grip around my throat, I poured myself a shot of whiskey—something I seldom drink unless it’s in a pumpkin pie.  But Robert J. Conley had died a week ago.  Since I never had the privilege of drinking with him, that night I toasted him.  So many of us in Indian Country have lost a good friend, superb storyteller and beloved educator—to mention only a few of the roles he filled for everyone that knew him.

Robert J. Conley

Robert J. Conley

Robert J. Conley, a Kituwah author of over 85 books—poetry, fiction and western novels based on Cherokee history—passed on February 16, 2014.  He and his wife Evelyn have been my friends for many years.  Thanks to Evelyn’s superb marketing skills and my thorough delight with Robert’s storytelling, no other author’s books take up more space on my bookshelves than Robert’s!  And I have read them all. My favorites are his love poems to Evelyn in The Rattlesnake Band and Other Poems.  Of his novels in the Real People Series—I loved War Woman the best.  Brass—a sort of horror story whose main character is an ancient, evil Cherokee spirit gone modern—was another thriller.

I first met Evelyn in the mid 1980’s, when the Tulsa United Way sponsored a grant to the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah.  Evelyn was the Cherokee lead person.  The source of the grant monies was a national program funded by the Kellogg Foundation to the national office of United Way of America.  Since I was on the national United Way staff and connected to Blueprint grantees, I got to see Evelyn at various events.  We became good friend and remained so after I left the national staff and moved to Chicago.

It was Evelyn who first introduced me to Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers & Storytellers after Alec died.  And things have never been the same.  It seemed like a latent artist within me emerged and I found a new path for the rest of my life.  I thank the Conley’s for this gift…especially Robert.  When I retired from the United Way movement in January of 2006, I poured myself into poetry and the lively writing community that exists in the St. Louis area, my new home.  During a visit to Robert and Evelyn shortly  thereafter, I sort of “contracted” with Robert to critique (a word he hates) or help me gauge what I had to do to improve my writing.  I waited.  And waited.  Finally, I emailed him, asking him what he thought about my manuscript, Games of Transformation. Here’s what he emailed back:

I’m probably not very good, especially if you want some kind of analysis, commentary, etc.  I have read your poems and thought they were very good.  I think you are one of the best poets at work around these days….The reason it took me so long to write is that I kept trying to think of something really bright to say, but all I can say is that they are GOOD, so move on.

What a shot of confidence his words gave to me!  I was overjoyed.  And this is the Robert J. Conley who doesn’t mince words!  The author of Cherokee Thoughts: Honest & Uncensored!  Well—yes, I am being over-dramatic.  But another well-known author had refused to blurb my manuscript, claiming it wasn’t “ready.”  Needless to say, Robert’s words were a wonderful balm to my bruised ego.  A little later, at its 2012 Returning the Gift Festival, Wordcraft Circle awarded Games of Transformation as the “Poetry Book of the Year.”

Robert, my friend—I didn’t mean to carry on like this.  These few paragraphs were supposed to be about you.  Well, I am hard put for all the accolades you deserve, and will continue to get in the next months.  Just know that I am profoundly grateful to you for your encouragement and good words.  I am awaiting The Brothers in the mail from your publisher, Goldmines. Still, I am sad that you didn’t get around to spin a continuing tale about the son of Brass, who still lurks under the sea.  And that little glass of whiskey was enjoyable the other night.  If you run into Alec—he likes whiskey, too.  Maybe you two could enjoy a few jokes about that all-too-serious woman who misses you both very much.

 

 

 

 

Glorious Impossible

19 Dec
December 19, 2013

Every year I wait for Christmas to come in its own special way.  One year it was the alto and soprano soloists each singing the aria,”He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd.”  They were part of the Augustana College Oratorio Society performing Handel’s The Messiah.  The women’s lovely voices–especially on the high G notes of the soprano’s aria–commanded my attention.  In those moments, upon hearing the words, “Take His yoke upon you and learn of him / for he is meek and lowly of heart / and ye shall find rest / and ye shall find rest unto your soul,” I felt my heart overflowing with gratitude, my spirit renewed.

Another time, shortly after the death of my husband, Alec Azure, I had moved from Chicago to Fairfax, Virginia.  One late afternoon I was out walking and came upon a young boy weeping into his hands.  I stopped by him and asked if I could help.  Through tears that covered his cheeks, he cried, “I feel so bad about myself.”  And I, burdened by the same, tried to assure him that we, as a human race, have all experienced these feelings but have to go on, forgive ourselves and learn from our mistakes.  And I went on.  Days later I wept, realizing the Christmas Rose had come again.

On December 17th of this year, Christmas once again visited me!  A poster arrived in the mail, sent by my good friend, Ray Kimball.  Titled “Msit No’kmaq,” meaning “All My Relations,” the poster is a colorful depiction of Mi’kmaq family clans.  And guess what?  Spider is there!  Awo’kaq!  Awo’kweijit!  What an affirmation of Grandmother Spider’s visit to me the summer of 1994 when I retreated to some woods in Wisconsin, seeking new direction in my life–even beseeching the name of my clan!  Then, I did not understand her visit.  But I never doubted that she would teach me.  My memoir, Along Came a Spider, recounted this incident and how, in the ensuing years, I have learned about Spider’s importance in my life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I am convinced of the glorious compatibility of Native and Christian spirituality.  So I have arranged a miniature alabaster crèche on my kitchen windowsill.  Above  the figures, I have hung a purple-beaded rendition of Spider, who stretches down to where the baby lay.  I regard this as a bold link of greeting from deities come to earth to bless and champion all who seek succor, including me.

 

 

(c) December 2013 by Alice M. Azure

Review: A Poet for Our Planet

18 Nov
November 18, 2013

A Turnpike Utopia: Poems to Resist Environmental Destruction for Profit and War
by Sam Friedman.
Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War,
46 pages, Available from the author at sam4wp@netscape.net.
Written as a fundraiser. Price: whatever you can afford
(at least $3 to cover costs).

BACK IN THE 1950s as a high school student, I had to read Edwin Markham’s “The Man with the Hoe.” What happened was exactly like Emily Dickinson described: the top of my head blew off!

Later, when a professor asked how I came to be involved with fair housing issues, American Indian activism, feminism and so forth, I gave him a copy of “The Man with the Hoe.” I distinctly remember that he did not lose the top of his head, not even when reading

Time’s tragedy is in that aching stoop;
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed,
Plundered, profaned, and disinherited,
Cries protest to the Judges of the world,
A protest that is also prophecy.

I often wonder how, in those innocent high school years of mine, such a political poem could have “changed the chemistry of my soul” to use Denise Levertov’s phrase from The Poet in the World.

I lived in an environment where there were no newspapers, no television and an extraordinary amount of religious fundamentalism.

Whatever mysterious communication took place between me and Markham’s poem that day was an important first step that helped set the direction of my life towards social justice. Throughout my professional life as planner and now as a working poet, I have always been drawn to the poetry of protest, especially when I have had the privilege of knowing their authors.

Sam Friedman and I came to know each other through our friendship with Hunter Gray, who moderates several private, online social action groups, and who has written articles for this magazine.

A few years ago, I volunteered to review Sam’s draft manuscript of some new poems and began to pay closer attention whenever he posted poetry online during our various discussions. He is a man intimately grounded in the urban world and its issues of AIDS, workers’ rights, racism, the mistreatment of immigrants, and so forth.

In “Pledge of a ‘Good American,’” he is not afraid to goad the reader into taking more responsibility than “…pledg[ing] to do nothing but vote. I particularly liked “After, On the Way to Thereafter,” where he uses his poet’s good craft to describe how he builds his global city:

…I may write a paper on AIDS,
or hug and console
a stranger or friend.
My evening, perhaps, put our heads in the oven
as we clean a community stove,
or I may weave a poem, or rest overlong,
or whatever seems needed and fun
as we build our embraceable
new global city
from the petals and rootings of dreams.

Picture Poetry

The poems I love best in this chapbook are seven ekphrastic poems, or picto-poems. Another practitioner of this form is the Anishinaabe poet, Dr. Kimberly Blaeser, professor in the English Department of the University of Wisconsin.

Sam’s short poem “Tuna” best illustrates the blending of words and image. The poet asks, “…do they turn bellies up / as they float into extinction / dreaming of sushi bars without sushi / of weeping humans / without their dead to eat?” Just below the two stanzas of the poem is a graphic photograph of a dead tuna. I wish the image could have been in color, as dreadful as that would be!

The title poem, “A Turnpike Utopia,” is either a little playful or tongue in cheek. It took me awhile to chuckle! But that photograph of hundreds of ducks clogging an intersection was too good to be true. Read this poem aloud! Savor these lines:

…they quack forth their horror
at ponds full of benzene,
they weep for their rivers
all covered with scum.

to:

The geese seize the White House
as ducks fill the Senate:

…Their guano makes fertile
the halls and the rostra,
replacing the bullshit
where money once reigned.

My favorite of Sam’s eckphrastic poems came to be “Second Negation: Notes on the Day after the Revolution.” “What the hell do we do next?’’ the poet continually asks, in the face of a photograph looking like it came from Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring uprisings. “How will we live our meanings…? / How do we unleash the sleeping poetry?  the smothered power to create / that waits like crabgrass / in the brains and hands of everyone…?”  And towards the end, the poet — honest yet hopeful, has the courage to say,

I ponder the epic mistakes our revolutionary
democracy
is undoubtedly making
even as I rove, wander and scribble
through the rubble, the wonders, and the
shoving salvation
as crabgrass pushes aside the arid asphalt
of Madison Avenue
to seek its sun.

In the introduction, Paul Sauers rightfully praises Sam’s ability to “connect the dots between Wall Street, dying fish… [and] grotesquely profitable fossil fuel energy companies…” I would add to this praise that it is Sam’s strong vision that shines through our nights, as in “August Outage”:

In my five hours wandering without electrons
on the midtown streets of Manhattan,
in the ghetto core of Plainfield, NJ,
and throughout the long bus-sit between,
I hear no hostility,
share confusion, water, and thoughts
with many strangers,
make many friends

of the moment
of this moment when solidarity flowers,
this moment nested between years
of shoving, pressure,
talons,
fangs.

 

Copyright by Alice M. Azure.  November/December 2013, Against The Current #167

 

 

Review – The Book of Big Dog Town by Jim Stevens

19 Sep
September 19, 2013

There’s no better way to learn about a city than to have friends who delight in showing  you their favorite places.  TheOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAn it becomes easier to find more personal haunts such as outside cafés, churches, shops, museums or parkways to visit and patronize.  I am fortunate to have such  friends like Jan Domaracki, whose love of Chicago was so contagious that I eventually came to regard that city as a friend and place of enjoyment, sometimes of restoration.

Another friend, poet Jim Stevens, recently launched a collection about a pre-historic, Wisconsin city commonly mapped as Aztalan by archaeologists, but reverently called Big Dog Town by Stevens.  The term “big dog” refers to the little horses which Ho-chunk people believed to be dream helpers.  Even if you have never heard of Aztalan, that’s okay.  Let yourself enjoy the way Stevens’ tour will lead you into an alternate realm alive with song, canoe stars, Little People and Bird Man himself–the revered and charismatic hero of the great mound-builder civilizations which sprung up all over the Midwest and Southeast from AD 1050 to 1200.

Like any good tour guide, Stevens’ introduction shows his readers how he “was called” (2) to Aztalan, how its “door in the world” was opened to him, and how, over the years, he grew into a deep relationship with its hills, rocks, the Crawfish River—and how, when he played his flute, the wind played back his song (4).

After reading through some of the poems and stories in the book, I realized that this collection was more of a spiritual memoir of the poet’s association with Big Dog Town that, as he nearly claims, he has had in more than one life.  Especially engaging was the last selection, “The Lizard’s Tail and Eyes.” As this short story goes, a young storyteller, named Face in the Rock, has lost his grandmother.  A great dream-lizard convinced Face in the Rock that he could no longer remain in the village where his grandmother had lived and taken care of him. So he began to travel with the aid of Sun Chaser, who was a small horse in those days—what the ancients of Grand Pinery (Wisconsin) called a big-dog.  After a long journey,

[a] glacial kettle…appeared as a round hollow, reaching into dimensions above and below them.  They walked down the short slope.  This was truly a place to dance [and]…became a famous place where all sorts of people came to stay, for the big-dog, it was known, was a powerful dreaming creature and now she was walking beside the river.  (63, 64)

The poems in this collection are beautiful, like sparkling ornaments that radiate a dream-like mystique to this book’s core story of self-discovery.   Stevens is the kind of poet, says Richard Wilbur in a wonderful essay, whose  “…impulse is to name the world.”  (“Poetry and Happiness,” from Donald Hall’s anthology, Claims for Poetry, 479)  How he does this naming in The Book of Big Dog Town is to take an ancient city not visibly viable, but whose grounds and stories he experiences as still sacred and luminous, and set it forth with descriptive power and amazing imagination.

Sevens, who is a consummate flute player, uses his knowledge of music to animate many of these poems—“Canto for the Fifth World” being one a several examples.  In this long poem, each stanza begins with the line, “I am going into the sacred lands of Turtle Island,” and continues in a mode like a going-home song:

I am going where the Old Ones linger in their new bodies the hills
Where fear is lost in the undulating houses of the Earth
I am going where the fire is living in the leaves of the forest
There is a string of owls coming around in the layered night

My favorite is “Coming through the Music.”  I imagine that the poet and Bird Man are here in Cahokia, near where I live, and they are doing a
call and response near the Twin Mounds—with Stevens on Roundtop and Bird Man on Fox Mound.  I am not sure who Stevens had in mind for
the Bird Man—Charlie Parker or the ancient Sun Chief of Cahokia and all its environs.  To me, it makes little difference.

I would like to be at the very height of a round hill
Where I am turning intricate lines on a raw brass cornet
Pretty soon I hear Bird Man the tenor saxophonist

We can see each other so clearly across the way
On the other hill at the zenith of the yellow dog sun
Through a broad silver mist covering the low fields

The blues with its unique verbiage is leaping the spaces
It is known to us that we are on two special worlds
So we meet in the center and dance in the wind

We are making in the world the first paths of being
Closely now we speak of the isles and broadleaf forests
A call and response is bursting forth in hornlike flowers

The people awaken into a world of mysterious songs
Strings of mythologies begin to live in true nature
They are telling of creator twins who roam the earth

The ones who play with the harmonic orbs of the hills
First Brother who falls from the deepest of skies
Second Brother who emerges from the pulsing sea

Raw Brass and Bird Man do not slow their music
The meandering rivers are carrying an endless story
A first thought does not ever become old in the world (17)

The Book of Big Dog Town:  Poems and Stories from Aztalan and Around.  Fireweed Press (Madison, Wisconsin) 2013. 64 pages. $15.00.

 

August’s Garden

15 Aug
August 15, 2013
Wild Trumpet Vine

Wild Trumpet Vine

Here it is August, and the garden is still a source of delight.  With all the rain and cooler temperatures, the trumpet vines have never looked lovlier.  We have worked for seven years on those orange-red beauties, training the baby tendrils up the six by six posts of the pergola (arbor) my son Michael built for me in the summer of 2006.  Then, my sister Cindy and her husband, Pete gifted me with four pots of baby vines from their home in Woodstock, Connecticut.  Now, all summer the vines have burst into such wildness and beauty, giving us comfort and shade in the heat of summer and endless nectar to the humming birds zooming through and around the arbor. 

Right now—the Japanese anemones and naked ladies are blooming together.  I love the dignity the anemones give to the naked ladies, bereft of foliage.  The two sets of blossoms give a delicate airiness to the section of the garden they inhabit.  Next to bloom will be the mums and lavender hostas.

I love how Stanley Kunitz compares the cultivation of a garden to the composition of a poem:

In a poem…when there is a word or line that calls attention to itself and not to the flow of meaning, this can be deadly.  The poem has its own laws about what it can contain and what it needs to exclude. You have to trust the poem.  The garden, too, will tell you,     usually rather quickly, if you’ve planted something in the wrong place.

So, as much as I love my lilies of the valley, I have to prune vigorously or they will take over all the space in my small garden!

 

Genealogy’s Brick Walls

07 May
May 7, 2013

In the epilogue of my memoir, Along Came a Spider, I illustrated some of the difficulties I encountered as I attempted to identify the names of my ancestors, especially those of Métis and Mi’kmaw, or Wabanaki, background in Nova Scotia.

In June of 2005, my sister received an email in response to her request for information about our Surette ancestors.  In an answer back, she was referred to a book, Genealogy Saint Michael’s Parish-Wedgeport 1767 – 1925. On page 421 were these words:

Cyrille Surette…married Marguerite Babin, daughter of Charles Amand Babin and Anne Marguerite Belliveau on 25 October, 1815.  Marguerite, b. cir 1797 in Belleville, NS and d. in Wedgeport.  Marguerite may have been the natural daughter of Charles Amand Mius and an aboriginal mother from Penobscot, Maine.

From this passage, there seems to be the possibility that my biological third great-grandmother–Marguerite Babin Surette–was born Métis and that my fourth great-grandmother might be Penobscot.  Also, it is a well-known fact that the Mius family has deep Mi’kmaw roots in Nova Scotia, all the way back to Philippe Mius II d’Anzy (born 1660), who had two Mi’kmaw wives.  Ever since I was made aware of the possibility of my third great-grandmother being Métis, I have vigorously sought to know the name or circumstances of her Native mother.

Adoption was not a word used in the old Acadian communities of Nova Scotia.  There are records of Marguerite’s birth at St. Anne du Ruisseau indicating that she was born a twin to Madeleine Babin, born August 20, 1796.  It seems logical to me that a new mother would be able to more easily take in a newborn than a woman whose children were past the nursing stage.

Recently, I was able to secure the names of the committee members responsible for writing Genealogy St. Michael’s Paris-Wedgeport 1767 – 1925, published in 2004.  There were fourteen men and women in that group.  The man responsible overall for the book did not recall why the note about the aboriginal mother and Charles Amand Mius was inserted except to say “…there was obviously a valid reason at the time” and “…was not inserted without just cause.”  I was also informed that the most knowledgeable person was suffering a diminishment of mental capacities and therefore not able to answer my request for sources.  Another member had also died since the 2004 publication–a man I knew with a keen historical understanding of Native/French intermarriages.  His name was never mentioned to me by the committee head.  I expressed my disappointment to the committee members, writing that I regarded their excuses for not being able to cite sources as weak and unacceptable.  Shortly thereafter, the Acadian Museum and Archives in Pubnico, Nova Scotia, where one of the committee members worked, refused to have anything more to say about the matter.

I know of one other genealogist whose records link Charles Amand Mius and an aboriginal mother from Penobscot, Maine to my third great-grandmother, Marguerite Babin.  Again, he has not offered me any of his sources and simply wondered what the Wedgeport genealogical committee was hiding.  I don’t know–but I am learning to be patient.

 

SOS – My Poetry Group

23 Feb
February 23, 2013

A Mighty Fine Poetry Group

I want to introduce you to my wonderful poetry group — SOS or, Six on Saturday.  For nearly seven years we have been meeting monthly to feed each other with food, drink and inspiration.  I think we have reached a point of trust where there’s very little we wouldn’t say or write.  Sometimes we seem to know each other better than we know ourselves!  For instance, I remember protesting that I didn’t consider myself a Native American poet exclusively–something like that, whereupon all five of Bunchies (as I sometimes call them) raised their eyebrows and uttered a collective “Huh?” From left to right, here we are:

Alice Azure‘s writing have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, the most recent being Yellow Medicine Review, Studies in American Indian Literatures and The Florida Review.  In 2011 she launched two books, a memoir, Along Came a Spider (Bowman Press) and a book of poetry, Games of Transformation (Albatross Press), the latter selected as the poetry book of the year by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers & Storytellers.

gaye gambell-peterson is a degreed visual artist and self-taught poet–stays busy doing both.  Recent kudos: First place in 2012 St. Louis Poetry Center’s Nash Contest; art and poetry published online by qarrtsiluni (Fragments). Two chapbooks feature her poetry & collages: pale leaf floating (Cherry Pie Press) and MYnd mAP (Agog Press).  Art featured twice on covers of Natural Bridge and elsewhere; poems in anthologies Breathing Out and Flood Stage, and elsewhere. She belongs to Loosely Identified (a women’s poetry collective), St. Louis Poetry Center (formerly a board member), St. Louis Writers Guild, and SOS (her favorite).

Katherine Mitchell holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Missouri St. Louis.  She has taught the Alexander Technique professionally for over twenty years.  Katherine has a background in dance and teaches Argentine Tango at Washington University.

Keith Byler is a physician with ten years in the trenches of the emergency room and is now in private practice.  His poems have appeared in Emergency: True Stories from the Nation’s E. R.’s, Hurricane Blues, Margie: The American Journal of Poetry, Untamed Ink, Thema, Flood Stage and others. He is also a winner of the Metro Arts in Transit 2008 Poetry in Motion contest.  Keith has been active in the St. Louis Poetry Center and is a past board president for the organization.  He and his wife Danica (a marriage counselor) live on a small farm outside of Edwardsville.

Rebecca Ellis lives in southern Illinois, on the eastern bluffs of the Mississippi, just high enough above the floodplain.  Her poems can be found in Prairie Schooner, Natural Bridge, qarrtsiluni.com, Bad Shoe and Crab Creek Review.  She edited Cherry Pie Press, publishing nine poetry chapbooks by Midwestern woman poets.  She now finds an artful home with two writing groups–Loosely Identified, and Six on Saturday.

Gail Eisenhart‘s poems can be seen in California Quarterly, Assisi, The Centrifugal Eye, The Quotable and qarrtsluni. Her chapbook Dip in the Road was runner up in the 2012 Mary
Ballard Chapbook contest sponsored by Casey Shay Press.  A retired Executive Assistant, she works part time at the Belleville (IL) Public Library.

 

 

 

Merry Christmas from My Home to Yours

10 Dec
December 10, 2012

2012 Christmas Greetings to My Friends

Mihku Paul’s New Poetry Book, 20th Century Powwow Playland

08 Nov
November 8, 2012

In an interview by Lisa Panepinto (“Renewing Images: Mihku Paul Interview,” River Pine Anthology of Civic Discourse, September 14, 2012), Mihku tells about a summer she attended a Sun Dance ceremony in North Dakota.  A deer had been killed so that there would be food for the celebrants.  However, no one knew how to cut up the animal’s body for cooking.  Having often helped her mother and grandfather skin and dress out animals for sportsmen who hunted around the Old Town area of Maine, Mihku knew how to butcher a deer.  At first she held back from volunteering.  Not only was it miserably hot and humid, but water was not readily available.  In the end, she persuaded herself to take charge of that deer.

Some of the poems in 20th Century Powwow Playland are like the chunks of deer meat that Mihku exposed that day in North Dakota.  Using the tools of her poetic craft, she masterfully hones sounds, verbs, images, rhythm and lines to cut open the skin (a word she uses often) of a latent colonization, revealing vicious racism, violence, poverty, anomie—all of which her family has had to endure in central Maine.

In the poem “Piecework,” she describes women who work out of their home, doing piecework for a shoe factory.  For Pauline, “complaining is her vocation, sex her currency / children are a thorn in her side / [she] …leaves to fend for themselves/ like feral kittens.” Another, Millie, has eyes that are “bloodshot” and which “…broadcast /a flag of surrender.” Pale Antoinette “shifts her generous flesh / shakes the bench and rises. / She makes more coffee, smokes another Camel.”  Mihku’s mother’s “…hands twist the awl, stacks the pieces, / until she must stop / fearful of ruining work / creased palms cracked and bleeding.”

A poem I like for its rich language and images is “Undertow.”  She talks about a drunk, a man named Froggy who drowned in the Penobscot River which rings the reservation, called Indian Island.  She then mentions her brother, who was also drinking at the time, and how he found another drowned body, a “…snagged / limp form of a boy his own age.”  She concludes the poem with a haunting, lyrical question:

Do ghosts whisper psalms in

the flooded branches of trees,

sing strange hymns beneath the ice, to

their next of kin, those newly arrived souls,

claimed by this river inside us?

Another poem caught my attention for the way Mihku created a sense of fear as well as promise.  In “Return,” everyone and everything is groaning in the sometimes stormy, sometimes moonlit dark—the earth, Mt. Katahdin, great pines, and a bear (Muin), with whom she travels.  He teaches her “…to welcome velvet dark / guided by the moon’s shape-shifted spark.”  Then, says the poet, “a steady warmth flowed gently up my spine, / Katahdin’s song rose up from granite stone.”

I am glad to have had the privilege of spending time with Mihku during the recent Returning the Gift Festival in Milwaukee, September 4 -9.  There, her spark and confidence were unmistakable, especially during a slam poetry competition, in which she won second place.  It was then I had a strong feeling that my Maliseet friend, with her wonderful sense of language, sound and images, was well on her way to becoming one of the most important poets to emerge out of New England.  I look forward to her next oeuvre!

20th Century Powwow Playland is available through http://:nativeauthors.com. Mikhu’s website is http://mihkupaul.com.

© by Alice M. Azure, November 2012.

Scenes from Milwaukee-Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers

04 Oct
October 4, 2012

I have just returned from Milwaukee, where Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers held its 20th anniversary of Returning the Gift–our annual festival.  After spending those six days (September 4 – 9) with wonderful poets, writers, publishers and performers– energy was buzzing out of my head!  Not to mention the literal heartache of leaving when it was all over. It’s a good thing I took all those photos with my new digital camera, for on the plane ride home, I could re-live some great moments by clicking through all the photos.  I’d like to share them with you at this time, via a slideshow.  Hover your mouse over the lower left corner, and you can advance the image.  If you click on the icon in the right side of the image, you can view a smaller but full photo.  There are 22 images.  My only regret is that I didn’t get everyone photographed!

I hope you enjoy seeing them all–and please ask me questions about any of these creative souls!

 

UA-31661877-1