This reading by alumni, mentors, and the current director of the Institute of American Indian Arts MFA program is a gathering of poetic voices who all identify as Indigenous. This reading will be as diverse as it is enthralling. These poets, who come from all parts of the country and the state of Wisconsin, have committed themselves to the act of rewriting the literary landscape by proving that Indigenous poetics is both vital and vibrant. Spend Indigenous People's Day with current city of Madison Poet Laureate, Angela C. Trudell Vasquez; former Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Kimberly Blaeser; Joaquin Zihuantanejo, winner of the Anhinga-Robert Dana Prize for Poetry; and Santee Frazier, award winning poet and current director of the Institute of American Indian Arts Low Residency MFA Program as they read from their latest collections. This will be an evening to remember.
Join the event at: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/wbf-indigenous-poetics. Before the event begins, you will see a countdown and the event image. Presented as part of Madison College's Journey Toward Anti-Racism.
About Copper Yearning: Copper Yearning, winner of the Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award, invests itself in a compassionate dual vision―bearing witness to the lush beauty of our intricately woven environments and to the historical and contemporary perils that threaten them Kimberly Blaeser’s fourth collection of poetry deftly reflects her Indigenous perspective and a global awareness. Through vividly rendered images, the poems dwell among watery geographies, alive to each natural nuance, alive also to the uncanny. Set in fishing boats, in dreams, in prisons, in memory, or in far flung countries like Bahrain, the pieces sing of mythic truths and of the poignant everyday injustices. But, whether resisting threats to effigy mounds or inhabiting the otherness of river otter, ultimately they voice a universal longing for a place of balance, a way of being in the world―for the ineffable.
About Aurum: Unflinching and magnetic, the language and structure of Aurum never strays from its dedication to revealing the prominent reality of Native people being marginalized and discarded in the wake of industrial progress. While uncovering different forms of oppression that estrange Native Americans from their own land, these poems explore the raw and disturbing aspects of living in the wastelands of contemporary America. Aurum does not attempt to provide answers or solutions. Instead, it splits the belly of North America and lays it bare into powerful words and unconventional structures. Brutally honest and incredibly fine tuned, this collection digs up “the grit where teeth once rooted” to show the objectification of Native peoples and cultures for the grotesque erasure it really is. With images that taunt, disturb, and fascinate, Aurum captures the vibrantly original language in Santee Frazier’s first collection, Dark Thirty, while taking on a completely new voice and rhythm. Each poem is vivid and memorable, beckoning to be read again and again as the words lend an enhanced experience each time. Frazier has crafted a wrought-iron collection of poetry that never shies away from a truth that America often attempts to ignore.
About In Light, Always Light: "The poems of In Light, Always Light afford space for the lyric to clarify and delineate the self “… through the ravine to the seam / the V peak of the hills / where dappled light spills / between rocks and discarded beer cans.” Here Angela Vasquez presents poems that struggle to contend with family history, a history of diaspora and relation, of assertion and insistence that the reader and the poet must bring to bear the imperative of “yes, yes fight back.” The poems travel, as we do, to observe the poet in the eternal dimension where one must write, and read — “Let me sit in sadness for a spell. / I need to write this out." –Joan Naviyuk Kane, 2018 Guggenheim Fellow
About Arsonist: "Arsonist is a shape-shifter of a book, a book that leaves the reader with an existential 'shivering', yet, it is on fire. Loaded with lethal chemicals, like, let us say, desire, abandonment, separation and industrialized lives without homelands, burning in their brutal severance, Arsonist is a spilling and boiling caldron of zig-zag figures, of wild colors split from their root, 'a son's desperate attempt to / clear the air' -- of things that long to congeal, yet, they smash into blanks, smoke and the questions of forgiveness and birth. Here, a relentless, piercing clarity, a precious text without trappings, an examination of loss and love. I salute Zihuatanejo for this blistering beauty among the ashes.
Kimberly Blaeser, writer, photographer, and scholar, served as Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2015-16. She is the author of five poetry collections including Copper Yearning, Apprenticed to Justice, and the 2020 bi-lingual Résister en dansant/Ikwe-niimi: Dancing Resistance; and editor of Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone: Contemporary Ojibwe Poetry. A Professor of English and Indigenous Studies at University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, Blaeser also serves on faculty for the Institute of American Indian Arts MFA program in Santa Fe. Included in more than 80 anthologies with selections of her work translated into multiple languages including Spanish, French, Norwegian, Indonesian, Chinese, and Hungarian, Blaeser has performed at over 300 venues around the globe from arctic Norway to the Kingdom of Bahrain. Her photographs, picto-poems, and ekphrastic poetry have been featured in many venues including the exhibits “Ancient Light” and “Visualizing Sovereignty.” She lives in rural Lyons Township, Wisconsin; and, for portions of each year, in a water-access cabin near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. Blaeser is founder of the literary organization In-Na-Po—Indigenous Nations’ Poets.
Santee Frazier is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. He received his BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and his MFA from Syracuse University. He has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, The School for Advanced Research, and The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. Frazier’s poems have appeared in Ontario Review, American Poet, and Prairie Schooner, among others. The author of Dark Thirty, University of Arizona Press, 2009, Frazier’s second collection of poems Aurum was published by the University of Arizona Press in Fall 2019.
Angie Trudell Vasquez is a 2nd and 3rd generation Mexican-American writer, editor, publisher, and the current poet laureate of Madison, Wisconsin (2020-2024). She holds an MFA in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Finishing Line Press published her collections, In Light, Always Light, in May 2019, and My People Redux, in January 2022. In 2021, she attended the Macondo Writers Workshop started by Sandra Cisneros, and became a fellow, also known as a Macondista. Her poems have appeared most recently in the Yellow Medecine Review, Sheltering with Poems, In Other Words, Hope is the Thing, and can be found online on Poem-A-Day, The Poetry Foundation's website, and the South Florida Poetry Journal among other places. In 2020 she published and co-edited a poetry anthology of Wisconsin poets, Through This Door, with then current poet laureate of Wisconsin, Margaret Rozga, through her press Art Night Books. In 2021 she was one of the recipients of a Creative Community Champion Award from Arts Wisconsin and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. Today she is the Chair for the Campaign, and together with her husband will co-host WORT 89.90 FM's show Madison BookBeat once a month interviewing writers and their recent books in 2022.
Joaquín Zihuatanejo received his MFA in creative writing with a concentration in Poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His work has been featured in Prairie Schooner, Sonora Review, and Huizache among other journals and anthologies. His poetry has been featured on HBO, NBC, and on NPR in Historias and The National Teacher’s Initiative. He was the winner of the Anhinga-Robert Dana Prize for Poetry. His book, Arsonist, was published by Anhinga Press in September of 2018, and was short-listed as a Finalist for both the Writers’ League of Texas Best Book Poetry Prize and the International Latino Book Award Best Book Poetry Prize. Joaquín has two passions in his life, his wife Aída and poetry, always in that order.