by Bojan Louis


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Winner of the American Book Award. These poems explore American identity and the powers of myth, faith, doubt, and the environment, and the music of these poems resonate with strains of the English, Spanish, and Diné languages. Louis, who has worked as a construction worker and electrician, moves fluently between the literal and symbolic dimensions of work, as he writes in the poem “Electricity”: Any laborer gathered for a tear-out/agrees the pleasure of opening walls/is the view of what’s no longer behind.”

''It takes only the ring of the opening poems in Currents to realize this book does exactly

what one hopes a first book will do, bring alive a new, original voice. It’s a voice

Bojan Louis not only sustains, but builds, the way, say, a young Sonny Rollins, might

shape and vary a singular solo that flows through song after song: raw, kinetic, authentic,

a poetry in which language has in common with music the visceral feel of the breathing

body behind it.''

—Stuart Dybek, Streets in Their Own Ink, Paper Lantern

''Bojan Louis’ Currents is piercing and polyglot. From the first stark poem, spoken in

the voice of a hard-living construction worker in Alaska who regards the sea and thinks

of Jonah (“bowel-held / and undigested”), to the last in the voice of Xipe Totec (Nahuatl

for Our Lord The Flayed One, as Louis’ useful notes tell us), we are swept into a fierce

and sublime poetry, part incantatory vision, part caustic critique of government cruelty

and injustice toward indigenous peoples. By turns a protest of the earth’s poisoning,

and as in the title poem, a prayer offered in the Diné 'tradition and knowing,' what

Currents crystallizes in these taut poetic concentrates goes straight to our souls: 'The

prayer, the prayed to, the offering / and the offered; / the bent back and the harvest.'''

—Cynthia Hogue, In June the Labyrinth

Currents is charged and luminous under “butane flame dawn.” Bojan Louis “stickframes

nightmares” into song— in attempt to heal and jolt awake stories in blistering

holler above his homelands of pot-holed desert highways and

reservation borders. An electrician by trade, Diné poet Bojan Louis’

debut is a multilingual ceremony of electricity, earth and memory,

where brokenness is the ground from which our stories continue

reaching for Hózhǫ́.

—Sherwin Bitsui, Shapeshift, Flood Song

''Cry. And wither within. Yet stay strong. Incredibly strong. That’s what Currents

by Bojan Louis is. Knowledge is knowledge. It is not spare. Yet, truth to tell,

knowledge is spare. But it’s there where it has always been. Where it belongs.

Truth or fact or answer is beside the point. Reading Louis’s poems, I have to

stop many times. At times, I feel I lose track. But that’s okay. Awareness makes

sure you are current. And ready, prepared, fixated by experience. Mine, not

his. That’s when it hits me. Religion and religious experience is the way to

Phoenix from Las Vegas. We’ll get there, and we’ll be ready. Make sure you

read the Notes at the end of Bojan’s book of poems, which tell you more than

you know and swear by.''

—Simon J. Ortiz, From Sand Creek, Out There Somewhere,

Beyond the Reach of Time and Change (ed.)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781943491117
Publisher: BkMk Press at the University of Missouri-Kansas City
Publication date: 11/01/2017
Pages: 66
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Bojan Louis is a member of the Navajo Nation-Naakai Dine'é; Ashiihí; Ta'neezahnii; Bilgáana. He is a poet, fiction writer, essayist, and poetry and production editor for ?RED INK: An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, & Humanities, and the author of the nonfiction chapbook, Troubleshooting Silence in Arizona (Guillotine, 2012). He has been a resident at the MacDowell Colony. CURRENTS is his debut collection.

Table of Contents

Breach 7

Prayer 11

Ko’ dóóŁeschch’iih 15

Hydrolysis 16

This Side of the River 20

Middle of the Desert 24

Troubleshooting 26

Arc Flash 27

Red Dirt 29

Currents 30

The Occasion to Wake Wind 34

Division 35

Grounding 37

Electricity 38

If Nothing, the Land 39

A Structure in Parts 42

Hwéeldi 43

Otoñal 44

Bini’ Anit’áą̨́Ts’óí45

Evening Beneath Dust 46

Baptism for the Dead 48

Nuestro Señor el Desollado 49

Notes 57

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