Synopses & Reviews
A collection of poems exploring a continuing struggle with identity
Everything this poet touches upon is volatile -- the poet himself, the people and world around him, ideas and mythologies, the ghosts of memory and the dreams of possible futures, all seem to burst into fragments. Mark Turcotte uses poetry to gather up the pieces -- the shards of joy and grief, peace and doubt, strength and temptation, questions and answers -- as he tries to define and rediscover what is lost when everyday life becomes explosive.
The first part of the book is a series of lyrical poems that all begin with the phrase "Back when I used to be Indian, " a self-contradictory concept that strikes at the heart of Turcotte's identity. His absent father and his own experience of fatherhood are the subjects of a second group of poems, leading him to explore the legacy that burdened his father and, in turn, the different kind of legacy that now burdens him. In a third and final group, Turcotte's imagination reaches again into the many flames of his experience, leading toward the title poem, where even the most dangerous of fires become a guiding light.
"Mark Turcotte's poetry feels like something brand new in Native American literature, like the first step of an original and aboriginal journey. There are no forced apologies or faux confessions here, and no desperate and nostalgic reaches into the past. Turcotte is very present in these powerful and playful poems." --Sherman Alexie
"I find Mark Turcotte's work to be very harsh, but true. In an age where false sincerity is favored over art, Turcotte's work is a corrective. It is very strong and has won me as a fan." --Jim Harrison
"Mark Turcotte's work is powered by anger, hilarity, and an earthy tenderness that grabs the heart and won't let go." --Louise Erdrich
Everything this poet touches is volatile-the poet himself, the people and world around him, ideas and mythologies, the ghosts of memory and the dream of possible futures, all seem to burst into fragments. Mark Turcotte uses poetry to gather up the pieces-the shards of joy and grief, peace and doubt, strength and temptation, questions and answers-as he tries to define and rediscover what is lost when everyday life becomes explosive.
About the Author
Mark Turcotte (b. 1958) lived his early years on North Dakota's Turtle Mountain Reservation and grew up in and around Lansing, Michigan. He now lives and works in Fish Creek, Wisconsin. Turcotte was the recipient of the First Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Open-Mic Award. He was a Pushcart Prize nominee in 1998 and in 2000, and he received a Lannan Foundation Literary Completion Grant in 2001. His work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, and Poetry, among other publications, and in 1998 he published a revised edition of his first book, The Feathered Heart (Michigan State University Press). A selection of his poems will soon appear in a bilingual French-English edition entitled La Chant de la Route (La Vague Verte, Paris).
Table of Contents
I. The Back When Poems
II. Road Noise
Election Day I
Road Noise I
Fists and Fingers Dream
Road Noise II
Election Day II
Road Noise III
Road Noise IV
Election Day III
III. Exploding Chippewas
Meanwhile in America
Woman Calls Water
Now We Sleep
Mabel Never Tells White Men She Loves the Moon
Edgar Two Dogs and the Singing of the Razor Blades
My Blood is Better Than Your Blood
In the Dream-All-Night Laundromat
A Very Distant Drumming