The Secret Powers of Naming

Overview

Sara Littlecrow-Russell’s style emerges from the ancient and sacred tradition of storytelling, where legends were told not just to entertain, but to teach and, if necessary, to discipline. The power of the storyteller is the power of naming, to establish a relationship, a connection, and a sense of meaning. A name is both a bequest and a burden. Each of the poems in this collection is, in essence, a naming ritual. Sharply, energetically, and always provocatively, these poems name uncomfortable moments, complex ...

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Overview

Sara Littlecrow-Russell’s style emerges from the ancient and sacred tradition of storytelling, where legends were told not just to entertain, but to teach and, if necessary, to discipline. The power of the storyteller is the power of naming, to establish a relationship, a connection, and a sense of meaning. A name is both a bequest and a burden. Each of the poems in this collection is, in essence, a naming ritual. Sharply, energetically, and always provocatively, these poems name uncomfortable moments, complex emotions, and sudden, often wryly humorous realizations. As she explores how names imposed by outsiders both collide and merge with the identities that Natives create for themselves, these poems decisively counter the images of Indians as colorful dancers, stoic saints, and defeated warriors. These verses are not constructed of beautiful images, nor are they stories of redemption. Instead, Littlecrow-Russell offers stark and honest witness to urban and reservation life at the beginning of the twenty-first century. In short snaps of honed lyric and voice, she tackles topics ranging from family, love, and spirituality, to welfare, addiction, and the thorny politics of tribal identity. Her work displays tremendous bitterness and anger, but there is also dignity, humor, and plenty of irony. Candid and compelling, this collection brings fluent verse and human face to the commonly misrepresented experiences of Native Americans.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816525355
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2006
  • Series: Sun Tracks
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Joy Harjo (Mvskoke/Creek) is an internationally known poet, writer, and musician. She has published seven books of poetry and the children’s book The Good Luck Cat.

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Table of Contents

Evening in a northern kitchen 3
The new buffalo 4
Indian ruins 5
Flyer on my windshield announces the opening of the 1999-2000 Indian hunting season 6
Escape from the Rez on a Saturday night 7
Mourning dove dances 8
Savage romance 9
Is it too much to ask? 10
The worst frybread 12
Song from a reedless flute 13
Shit work 14
Windigo council 15
Imitation eagle feathers 16
A mask of razorblades and the voice of the rain 17
Indian tears 19
Lost bird 20
English only 21
Devil's lake 22
The ancestors 23
Her baskets 24
A good woman 25
It was the only way to make tips 26
When I'm an old woman, I'll be damned if I wear purple 27
Organic shit 28
A good night 29
Russian roulette, Indian style 30
To a case worker 31
Stop welfare : the middle class is going broke 32
Miller brewing presents celebrations of culture 33
Invisible Indians 34
Indian time 36
Coming home 37
Drive-by 38
Apology to the wasps 39
Supermarket traitor 40
Indians from outer space 43
Native American history class 44
I will take anyone to bed (poetically speaking of course) 45
For Roque Dalton 46
FUCK 47
How I became Puerto Rican 48
My favorite boatperson 49
My books and your white women 51
Poem for a beautiful Texan white boy 52
I know you raped her 53
Eagle feathers across a crow wing 55
Graduation day 56
Conversation with a New York cabbie 57
Noble savagery 58
My first suit 60
Sue Indian 61
These days my prayers come twenty to a pack 62
Prison prayer 63
Eleven minutes 65
Ghost dance 66
Double lattes and earthworms 67
Lunch hour 68
Tuna fish and bananas 69
Letter to human resources 70
Wounded knees 71
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