Poetry has long both reflected and guided Native experience, starting with oral communication down through the generations. Now the traditional is meeting with the contemporary in what promises to be a unique look at indigenous poets and their work.
The indigenous world’s most notable literary bards are gathered in New York City for a weekend of reading verse, sharing experiences and catching a glimpse into one another’s worlds in a unique symposium of Native poetry.
Native Innovation: Indigenous American Poetry in the 21st Century is “bringing together a new generation of Native American poets in a convocation of readings and conversations for an in-depth look at the dynamic state of current Native American poetry and poetics in the 21st century,” according to Poetry House, the New York City–based organization that disseminates verse to all who will listen.
Co-curated by Joseph Bruchac and Allison Hedge Coke, the event is examining issues that include Native languages, traditional storytelling, formal innovation and Native American politics, among many other topics.
The symposium opened on Thursday March 21 with a preliminary event, Crazy Brave: An Evening with Joy Harjo, with the acclaimed author of Crazy Brave reading from her memoir, then conversing with Bruchac and taking audience questions. A good 100 people attended the free warm-up event, held at the National Museum of the American Indian in Manhattan.
But that was just the beginning. On Friday night, March 22, the gathering opens officially with a reception and welcome, then a reading by Natalie Diaz and Orlando White, followed by readings with Santee Frazier, Cedar Sigo and Roberta Hill. The weekend will also include readings by Natalie Diaz, Orlando White, Sherwin Bitsui and Karenne Wood, among others.
The symposium is presented by Poets House, which is partnering with the National Museum of the American Indian and is supported by the Lannan Foundation, as well as co-sponsored by Copper Canyon Press and the University of Arizona Press.
The public is invited to attend. Learn more about Native Innovation: Indigenous American Poetry in the 21st Century.