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Flood Songby Sherwin Bitsui
Synopses & Reviews
"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
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.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Native traditions scrape against contemporary urban life in "Flood Song." Poet Bitsui is at the forefront of a new generation of Native writers who resist being identified solely by race, yet this work is filled with allusions to Dine (Navajo) myths, customs, and traditions.
Sherwin Bitsui is a young Diné Navajo poet drawing on traditional song, storytelling, and surrealistic poetics.
Poetry. Native American Studies. 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.
About the Author
Sherwin Bitsui is originally from White Cone, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. Currently, he lives in Tucson, Arizona. He is Dine of the Todich'ii'nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tl'izilani (Many Goats Clan). He holds an AFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts Creative Writing Program. He is the recipient of the 2000-01 Individual Poet Grant from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, the 1999 Truman Capote Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Marfa Residency and more recently, a 2006 Whiting Writers' Award. Sherwin has published his poems in American Poet, The Iowa Review, Frank (Paris), Lit Magazine, and elsewhere. His poems were also anthologized in Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century. He is the author of Shapeshift (University of Arizona Press 2003). His latest book, FLOOD SONG, was published by Copper Canyon Press in October of 2009.
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