Flood Song

Flood Song

by Sherwin Bitsui
     
 

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"Sherwin Bitsui's new poetry collection, Flood Song—a sprawling, panoramic journey through landscape, time, and cultures—is well worth the ride."—Poets & Writers

“Bitsui’s poetry is elegant, probative, and original. His vision connects worlds.”—New Mexico Magazine

“His images can tilt

Overview

"Sherwin Bitsui's new poetry collection, Flood Song—a sprawling, panoramic journey through landscape, time, and cultures—is well worth the ride."—Poets & Writers

“Bitsui’s poetry is elegant, probative, and original. His vision connects worlds.”—New Mexico Magazine

“His images can tilt on the side of surrealism, yet his work can be compellingly accessible.”—Arizona Daily Star

Sherwin Bitsui sees violent beauty in the American landscape. There are junipers, black ants, axes, and cities dragging their bridges. I can hear Whitman's drums in these poems and I can see Ginsberg's supermarkets. But above all else, there is an indigenous eccentricity, ‘a cornfield at the bottom of a sandstone canyon,’ that you will not find anywhere else.”—Sherman Alexie

Native traditions scrape against contemporary urban life in Flood Song, an interweaving painterly sequence populated with wrens and reeds, bricks and gasoline. Poet Sherwin Bitsui is at the forefront of a new generation of Native writers who resist being identified solely by race. At the same time, he comes from a traditional indigenous family and Flood Song is filled with allusions to Dine (Navajo) myths, customs, and traditions. Highly imagistic and constantly in motion, his poems draw variously upon medicine song and contemporary language and poetics. “I map a shrinking map,” he writes, and “bite my eyes shut between these songs.” An astonishing, elemental volume.

I retrace and trace over my fingerprints
Here: magma,
there: shore,

and on the peninsula of his finger pointing west—
a bell rope woven from optic nerves
is tethered to mustangs galloping from a nation lifting its first page
through the man hole—burn marks in the saddle horn,
static in the ear that cannot sever cries from wailing.

Sherwin Bitsui’s acclaimed first book of poems, Shapeshift, appeared in 2003. He has earned many honors for his work, including fellowships from the Witter Bynner Foundation and Lannan Foundation, and he is frequently invited to poetry festivals throughout the world. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
"I bite my eyes shut between these songs" says Bitsui in the first poem in this harsh and beautiful collection. What follows is intently imagined poetry, visceral, imagistic, sometimes angry, always emotionally rapt, that explores Bitsui's Native heritage and the landscape of the American West. These poems hit you in the face, but you owe it to yourself not to duck.
Publishers Weekly
This second book by Bitsui (Shapeshift) comprises a sequence of untitled fragmentary lyrics, which, taken together, form a long poem that is part stream-of-consciousness road movie of the Southwest and part visionary investigation of personal memory. In it, Bitsui attempts to extend and break with the traditions of Native American writing. Bitsui's is a world in which one's connection to the land is inevitably interrupted by centuries of merciless treatment and by the trappings of modern life. In one poem he laments, “You think you can return to that place/ where your mother held her sleeves above the rising tides/ saying, 'We are here again/ on the road covered with television snow; we are here again/ the song has thudded.' ” Throughout, Bitsui straddles borders between a long history and postmodern aesthetics: “the final chapter of this one-room story/ smells disfigured.” This is a powerful collection from a promising young poet. (Nov.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781556593086
Publisher:
Copper Canyon Press
Publication date:
10/01/2009
Pages:
120
Sales rank:
1,371,903
Product dimensions:
6.98(w) x 9.52(h) x 0.28(d)

Meet the Author


Sherwin Bitsui was born in 1975 in Fort Defiance, Arizona. He is Diné (Navajo) and has a profound connection to his culture. His acclaimed first book of poems, Shapeshift, appeared in 2003. He has been honored by the Witter Bynner Foundation, and his work has appeared widely, including American Poet, The Iowa Review, Frank, and Red Ink.

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