Palominos Near Tuba City: New and Selected Poems
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About the Author
Denise Sweet is faculty emerita, having taught Humanistic Studies, Creative Writing, and First Nations Studies for the University of Wisconsin--Green Bay. She has performed in theater and film productions (both a full-length feature and various documentaries), and has given over 100 readings in North and Central America, Canada and Europe. Her books of poetry include Know By Heart (Rhiannon Press), Songs for Discharming (Greenfield Press, 1997), Days of Obsidian, Days of Grace (Poetry Harbor), and Nitaawichige (Poetry Harbor; the latter a four-author collection). In 1998, Songs for Discharming won both the Wisconsin Posner Award for Poetry, and the Diane Deborah Award, given by the North American Indigenous Writers Circle of the Americas. She is Anishinabe (White Earth).
Other distinctions: her poem, "Veteran's Dance: After Oklahoma City" took second place in Sante Fe Indian Market's 1st annual Poetry Competition. In 2006, the International Crane Foundation commissioned Sweet to author a poem for the organization, eventually titled, "All The Animals Came Singing." Additionally, her poem, "Constellations" is part of a permanent etched installation at the Midwest Express Center in Milwaukee, WI. In 1998, Sweet was one of five North American tribal writers sponsored by the U.S. Embassy to attend the 1st Annual World Congress on Indigenous Literature of the Americas held in Guatemala City, Guatemala. In 2004, Governor James Doyle appointed Sweet as Wisconsin's Poet Laureate (4-year term); the second laureate for the state.
Her works of poetry and fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals such as Cream City Review, Calyx, Akwekon, Sinister Wisdom, Yellow Medicine Review, Yakhiko la'tuse? ("She Tells Us Stories"), Another Chicago Magazine, Recreating The Enemy's Language (ed. Joy Harjo), Plainswoman, Returning The Gift (ed. Joseph Bruchac), Brave In The Face of Danger (ed. Beth Brant), Traces In Blood, Bone and Stone: Ojibwa Poetry, Stories Migrating Home (ed. Kimberley Blaeser) and others.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (9/3/2018): "This slim volume of new and previously published poems from Anishinabe poet Sweet (Songs for Discharming) displays her wisdom and long-honed storytelling craft in clear, concise, and direct works. Whether addressing the monumental or mundane, Sweet demonstrates a keen ability to get to the heart of an issue and cast the rest aside; hers are 'Songs deep with memory, / echoing through the chambers/ of every heart while marble halls/ and statues collapse into dust.' Among the figures that populate the collection are roadside vendors outside of Taos, cops in an English composition class, a seven-year old "taken away in handcuffs," Lakota water protectors, and a mother and daughter who glimpse in each other generationally disparate visions of female strength. Elsewhere, these poems record encounters with absence, whether personal, as in 'a child twisting/ gently from your hand, then/ gone before you know it'; civilizational, as in 'The Lost Maya, ' an indigenous woman who feels out of place while visiting Mexico; or planetary, as when 'at the top of the world/ sheets of ice tumble/ into Arctic waters/ while plankton/ crazed with/ hunger, / stop.' Such are the stakes of Sweet's poetry, an urgent "call out to the 500 nations/ that reside on this continent, / those like me who want more than this."
BOOKLIST (5/15/2018): "Sweet's latest book contains new poems and selections from her previous three collections, all of which call on readers to be fully aware of the world we inhabit. Her language and imagery are firmly rooted in the earth as she charts her upbringing. Opening with "Mapping the Land," a melding of memories of Native children running to hide from the U.S. government agents trying to round them up and transport them to boarding schools: "Indian agents once again emptying / the villages of their children." A storyteller at heart, Sweet harvests both fact and fiction and keeps her palette vibrant with colors that scan as both tragic and funny. In "'Injun' Joe Remembers," she plays on the dominant cultural stereotype, yet here "Injun" Joe has a mind of his own. Sweet's glowing poems reshape the story lines of history and reclaim a besieged world and an enduring perspective ("but the bloodlines will remember") of deep power and meaning."--Raúl Niño
"This book is wrought with wisdom, wild mares, whooping cranes, doves - all the animals come singing. The poems in Sweet's Palominos Near Tuba City are stylistically certain, surefire, bringing forth earthly stories from creation to contemporary common ground, virtually bracing us to stand like lightning rods, indisputable, holding ground, waiting - ready. A deep beauty."--Allison Adele Hedge Coke, author of Streaming & Burn
"Denise Sweet is one of our most important Native poets and has been for a long while. Her brilliant new collection Palominos Near Tuba City, is large and beautiful and reveals the fullness of her talents."--Adrian C. Louis, author of Random Exorcisms
"In Palominos Near Tuba City, Denise Sweet invites us to consider how we might live 'within harvested stories.' This rich collection is filled with the histories, memories, and landscapes of Indigenous peoples from Guatemala to Taos to Lake Superior; filled as well with smart, funny, and sometimes poignant accounts of Native lives and Native resistance. Whether describing the 'prairie painted tender and mute, ' the 'white wings of ice and snow, ' or the 'turkey feathers and greasepaint grins of mascots, the author finds 'new words to old songs, ' offers a unique expression of what she calls 'that essential thirst for justice.' Let this collection awaken your own thirst, then drink deeply of these satisfying poems."--Kimberly Blaeser, author of Apprenticed to Justice, Wisconsin Poet Laureate 2015-16
"This is poetry of motion and action. In each of Denise Sweet's poems we are urged by example to run, to search, to map and remap our lives and lands, to grin, to tease, to learn, to question, to protest, and to remember. Most of all, these poems ask us to sing and to listen for the singing of creation."--Heid E. Erdrich, Editor of New Poets of Native Nations
"A great spirit infuses this major body of work from Denise Sweet, The poems in Palominos Near Tuba City are charms, songs and stories, cries and laments; their scope and breadth are resounding. They are not so much spoken by the poet as spoken through her, spoken not so much to or about us as for us."--Bruce Taylor, author of The Longest You've Lived Anywhere: New & Selected Poems, 2013
LitHub recommends 10 poetry books for National Poetry Month, 2018: "Anishinaabe poet Denise Sweet has a long resume that spans a career as an academic (as a professor of Humanistic Studies, Creative Writing, and First Nations Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay), a performer, and a writer, and she served as Wisconsin's Poet Laureate from 2004-2008. Palominos Near Tuba City combines a selection of Sweet's most beloved poems with new works. Her poems dig their roots into the past, using history and memory to push new shoots up for the future. Sweet's writing is visceral, tangible, audible; it immerses the reader's every sense in startling imagery. The poems in Palominos Near Tuba City are penned with a light touch that alternates easily between serious wisdom and gentle humor."