Synopses & Reviews
"Roberta Hill is a poet who understands struggle, and generously imparts her passion for renewal. Her work always stems from the toughness of a compassionate survivor."Louise Erdrich
Cicadas: New and Selected Poems gathers together seventy-five poems from Roberta Hill's two previous poetery collections, Star Quilt and Philadephia Flowers, along with a generous selection of new poems, culled from the past thirty years. Roberta's poems are powerful lyrical expressions of love and respect for family, friends, fellow artists with a wide context for contemporary politics especially as protest against imperial governments, class conflicts, and racial injustice.
Roberta's poems are always informed by her deep knowledge of native culture and respect for the earth and fellow humanity.
You carried the cicada to the alder tree
whose leafy shadow made the yard an arbor.
After you left, his buzz song eased me
through lonely afternoons of sun and wind.
Desire changed his skeleton.
Desire--that green shoot in a gut.
That tendril twining with memory until new life emerges
on the opposite side
from where we first supposed. He lured his mate
to the arbor. Even after you were gone,
all the years you loved me
Roberta Hill is an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in The American Indian Culture and Research Journal, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Luna, and Prairie Schooner. She has received a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund Award and a Chancellor's Award from the University of Wisconsin.
Cicadas, New and Selected Poems by Roberta Hill is a definitive collection from one of Americas best poets of her generation. These fine poems by Roberta Hill make a visionary trail through years of history and personal myth. Hill's poetry has always challenged me to leap deeper into their finely spun mythical-real world. They stun me. The classic Star Quilt” opens the book and reminds us that the overall form of the collection is like a star quilt. Each poem, makes a shape in the pattern, each pulse of line, image and light give impetus to the form. Grief and joy define the star within us, of us. The poem Philadelphia Flowers” is the heart of the collection. It is a call to compassion and deserves to be an American classic. And finally the new poems, like cicadas, have climbed up earth through years of yearning, to shed their husks and sing. And what a journey! This is one of the most important collections of contemporary indigenous American poetry.”--Joy Harjo, author of Crazy Brave
Through cosmic imagery of the ordinary, Cicadas: New and Selected Poems by Roberta Hill are the journey that sweeps us across the Nation's geography from birth to the edge of silence and back. Robertas poems share with us a quiet intimacy that transforms the predictable into a raw, yet delicate feast of emotions, for all of us to sample.”--John Francis, author of The Ragged Edge of Silence: Finding Peace in a Noisy World
Roberta Hill continues to lead us through her uniquely Oneida borne and traveler-graced poetic. Her lines lead us, too, carry our burdens, release us, remind us to lift ourselves, sing elegies for those we lose, bring us altitudes, summits, winged entry, then cradles our looming falls. Cicadas, a monumental selected works re-establishes Star Quilt memories, dreams back Philadelphia Flowers, fastens time with an all new Cicadas planting, serves up a reminder of this early leader and forms her sure presence in the fertile field. Placing promise and gifting us to return to her, here, Hill, instills, 'We pulse with paradox,//with sweet darkness and fire that can move//through distances, gauged by more than eyes alone.//There is no edge, but always room to love.' Thoroughly guiding us back home to her ardent work. Phenomenally, so.”--Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, author of Blood Run and Off-Season City Pipe
Time found its voice in the poetry of Roberta Hill. A powerful voice with the wings of Love and Death. A voice with the colors of ancient everyday landscapes and the colors of luminous dreams. Cicadas, New and Selected Poetry by Roberta Hill is a must have, a must read and a must share with everyone.”--Moisés Villavicencio Barras, author of Light of All Times
'I'm not first/ to go claim as kin/ the cicada.' In these poems spanning thirty years Roberta Hill chronicles the things that matter: family, the wisdom of animals, and the travails of 'this dancing earth.' In Cicadas, we watch the poet's journey from the landscapes of her youth to the hard-earned wisdom of the present. Ultimately Hill's poems are rife with the music that comes rising out of the soil. In short, Cicadas sings.”--Amy Quan Barry, author of Water Puppets
With elegant rich imagery, these poems root deep in the memory of those whove gone before. Roberta Hill re-gifts us with the 'grace we lost' and reconnects us to our continuous presence on this continent, where we look out from the windows of these poems, in awe of the beauty unraveling before us.”--Sherwin Bitsui, author of Flood Song
From one of our most respected Native American poets, a comprehensive collection of seventy-five poems, spanning some thirty years.
About the Author
Roberta Hill, (b. 1947) an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, is a poet, fiction writer and scholar. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin. Her MFA is from the University of Montana, and her Ph.D. was obtained from the University of Minnesota.
Roberta has been an instructor for the Poets-in-the-Schools Program in several places, including Minnesota, Arizona, and Oklahoma. She is currently an Associate Professor of English and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She serves on the Advisory Board for wicazo sa review. Roberta is currently working on a biography of Dr. L. Rosa Minoka-Hill, her grandmother, the second American Indian woman doctor, will be published by the University of Nebraska Press. She has 3 children.
Roberta's fiction, poetry and essays have most recently appeared in The American Indian Culture and Research Journal, The Beloit Poetry Journal , Luna and Prairie Schooner. She is currently at work on her first novel, A Century of Sad Madness, a story about trauma and love in the context of ongoing colonzation. She previously published as Roberta Hill Whiteman.
Roberta has a two poems included in the St. Paul Sculptural Garden, Language of the Land Project, where her "room" in the garden contains sight-lines developed with reference to the Native American burial grounds that are visible from the site.
The Wisconsin Library Association cited her collection of poetry, Star Quilt (Holy Cow! Press 1984), with an Outstanding Achievement Recognition.