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4.4  ·  Rating details ·  1,020 Ratings  ·  190 Reviews
The astonishing, powerful debut by the winner of a 2016 Whiting Writers' Award

WHEREAS her birth signaled the responsibility as mother to teach what it is to be Lakota therein the question: What did I know about being Lakota? Signaled panic, blood rush my embarrassment. What did I know of our language but pieces? Would I teach her to be pieces? Until a friend comforted, Don
Paperback, 110 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Graywolf Press
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Before I read these poems for the first time, I listened to an interview with Layli Long Solder on the On Being Podcast, which helped provide some context for the poems. Krista Tippett doesn't always get it right, but her questions were often good places to start the discussion.

Layli Long Soldier does not want to be seen as a representative voice, which should be understandable, but if you read reviews of this collection you will see how many people get it wrong. The poems reflect her own exper
Tori (InToriLex)
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Find this and other Reviews at In Tori Lex

These poems are memorable and moving, but most of all they're important. Being Native American is existing in a place that has massacred and stolen from your ancestors and now expects you to be appreciative for surviving. This poetry explores how hard it is to gain understanding from a government that downplays it's transgressions while apologizing. This author plays with language throughout her poetry, and used formatting to add depth to her poems. Most
Aug 18, 2018 added it
Shelves: usa, 2018-read
Layli Long Soldier is a citizen of the United States and of the Oglala Lakota Nation. Her collection "Whereas" won the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and was a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry.

In the first part of her collection, Long Soldier talks about her identity and how she came to re-assess it when she became a mother - as she wants to teach her daughter what it means to be a Lakota, she contemplates what it means to her, what she herself knows ab
Rachel León
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, poetry, read-in-2017
(4.5 stars, rounded up for it's rawness)

I'll admit I don't know a lot about poetry, but I thought this book was fantastic. It made me FEEL so much. It's so sad and beautiful and so worth reading.
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The first section of the collection plays with language and form. The second section is more grounded and is a response to the formal apology given by congress to the native peoples in 2009. Here again the author plays with language to demonstrate the emptiness of the apology. These poems are complex and working at a different level than many others I’ve read. A great, important collection.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
4.5 that I’m rounding up, because the poems contained within are beautiful, raw, angry, resigned, joyful, bodily real.
Bogi Takács
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-1st-pub
My lengthy review is now online! This was an amazing poetry collection:
Jul 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
I felt out of my depth with this one. Some parts I loved, some went over my head. My favourite part was the discussion of the inadequacy of the congressional apology to Native Americans. It was well thought out and did interesting things with language and form. I think I need to reread this collection in a year or two when I've read a bit more modern poetry.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I can't get over this book. It arrived on my doorstep yesterday, and already I have read through it 2 1/2 times. The 1/2 times being the poems I keep reading obsessively, like I do my favorite songs.

Now I am going to go read it again.
I find it hard to rate this book. I feel it is one of those books where any rating would take away from the message and power it clearly holds.
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved some, some left me cold, just as it should be with poetry - every reader and every reading is different - this is a rich collection I’ll be reading again.
Elizabeth Willis
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Graywolf for the ARC!

WHEREAS is a breathtaking innovation. These poems breathe and grow and puncture; they consider grass and national identity and language and writing. Long Soldier wonders how we can capture a thing by assigning it a name, assigning words to it (Can we?), and especially how a government can atone for genocide. It is a song against silencing, against over-simplification, against homogenization, against misunderstanding, against misremembering, against nationalism. "I
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly powerful. Essential reading.
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Allie by: Bonnie Etherington
Shelves: 2018
A beautiful, difficult collection of poetry. I've said before that I'm not the most confident judge of poetry, and that stands (there was definitely some stuff in here I didn't "get"), but once I figured out the author's style, this work mostly flowed for me. I kept tearing my little library receipt into smaller and smaller pieces so I could bookmark my favorite phrases and poems.

The first tear, and I think my favorite, was "Wahpanica," about commas and poverty and the poverty of being denied yo
Sarah Cavar
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, poetry
Whereas a book connects too forlornly, too viciously to(o) itself to hope into a review.

I've been blown away and returned again. This is like no poetry collection I have ever read. I can see I'm not the only one who feels this way. In part 1, Long Soldier throws the reader directly into the midst of struggle, filling in the "gaps" the non-Native reader might experience only after she has had her say. In part 2, she bares her many lives; the familial, emotional, physical, linguistic, spiritual r
John Madera
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“How do I language a collision arrived at through separation?” Layli Long Soldier asks in Whereas, her commanding and utterly necessary collection, this query informing the book as a whole, Long Soldier deftly employing a poetics of fracture, erasure, and obscuration toward attacking the American empire’s innumerable, and woefully ongoing, lies to and betrayals of Native Americans, Long Soldier’s lyrical indictment of oppressive legalese, not to mention oppressive language generally, absolutely ...more
I had a hard time working my way through the first half or so - I think because I’m not that sophisticated a poetry reader. But I was so glad I persisted, because from “38” onwards was a must-read - felt really important in terms of thinking about “reconciliation” and its conceits and legalisms, what it means, the purposes it serves, and what it doesn’t say/fix.
Robin Schultze
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a collection worth digging your heels into: visceral, yet measured, attacks on language, perceived identity, and privilege. Worth spending time on/worth coming back to.
Craig Werner
"And whereas one of my students asks a visiting poet about education vaguely getting at what is worth pursuing? The poet suggests looking at whatever is/was missing in one's life and begin there. So many nods in the room around that table they acknowledge it too. In the missing power" (p. 67)

"Yet I smash head-on into this specific differentiation: *the* Creator vs. *their* Creator. Whereas this alters my concern entirely--how do I language a collision arrived at through separation?"

Those quotes
Ai Miller
This was a gorgeous collection, both the poems in front but especially the "Whereas" portion. Long Soldier's poetry is biting and funny and wrenching and so thought-provoking. There were so many great lines that were moving, and the style seemed constantly in motion, always shifting, never settling, which made for a really refreshing reading experience. Highlights for me included "38" (though it feels so wrong to name that as a "favorite," I just want everyone I know to read it,) the "Diction" s ...more
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Poignant mix of the personal and the political. Review to come...
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is amazing.
Kerstin Tuttle
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Layli Long Soldier's Whereas is a two-part exploration of grasses, language, and broken promises. The first part of the collection, "These Being the Concerns" borrows official United States government language for the title. An exploration of language and identity, Long Soldier dissects the English language with precision and beauty, drawing our attention to the way in which the language we use profoundly impacts the way we think and act and the way that these words carry more weight than we mig ...more
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, favorites
Layli Long Soldier’s book of poetry titled “Whereas” assuredly deserved the 2017 National Book Award nomination, if not the award thus far. Every single poem is deftly structured and offers to the lucky reader all about “the relationship between official political speech and literature’s capacity to write back.”

Layli Long Soldier’s “Whereas” should be mandatory reading in all high school English classes. She writes from the perspective as a citizen of the United States and an enrolled member of
Liz Mc2
Feb 20, 2018 added it
Shelves: poetry
Whereas reminded me a little of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen—the political engagement of the poems, the fact that some of them are prose poems or in a form that isn’t conventionally “poetic.” Whereas is a powerful response to the Congressional Resolution of Apology to Native Americans, and in the introduction Long Soldier writes of having to live as a dual citizen of the US and the Oglala Lakota nation. The first part of the book, These Being the Concerns, feels more intimate, maybe more personal ( ...more
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant collection about the ongoing politics and conversation surrounding Native Americans and the U.S. government. Some poems are narrative-like and prose-y, while others are very visual and play on the page in different ways. I can't say I fully understood all the poems on the first read-through, and maybe some won't ever be completely clear, but you can definitely appreciate the work and narratives and confrontation here without having to "get" every last bit of it.

My very favori
Maggie Gordon
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, poetry
Damn. Just damn.

Technically, I think that's a sufficient review. This book left me speechless. Soldier's control and use of words is exceptional, and her poems sang to me. I borrowed this from the library, but I need to purchase a copy as I want to return to these pieces again and again. From haunting to joyous, and profoundly critical of history and contemporary politics, Whereas is a breathtaking book.
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've been reading this book, slowly, since she came to read at SLCC in March. The book is an interesting mix of personal poems and the "Whereas" section, which is much more political and directly addresses the "apology" by the US government.
I think this book is really important and I highly recommend it.
I feel like I don't know how to review poetry books anymore because I'm so out of practice in reading it.
But I love the repeating images of grasses in the book and how it changes from poem to poe
Whereas poetry should not only exist as easily digestible sound bites there exists Layli Long Soldier’s collection WHEREAS - which is beautiful, and heartbreaking, and absolutely one of the best books of 2017. The poem “38”, which ends the first section, is a masterwork and destroyed me for days after reading it.

I’m pulling for this one at the National Book Awards this month.
Alyson Hagy
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant, moving, genre-whirling, language-questing collection of poems by a remarkable new voice. Recommended for all fans of poetry...and any reader who wants to be rocked by a powerful feminist American Indian voice.
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Reading Women: Discussion for Whereas 1 13 Apr 28, 2018 04:20PM