Meike's Reviews > The Drum That Beats Within Us

The Drum That Beats Within Us by Mike Bond
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it was ok
bookshelves: usa, 2018-read

I was drawn to this poetry collection because the blurb points out that Mike Bond was first published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, for whom I have tremendous admiration. As the beautiful cover already suggests, many of the poems deal with mankind's connection to the natural world, but also with the connection to their own inner worlds. I found many poems so-so, but two things really confused me:

- Bond draws heavily on Native American themes and imagery: The "Great Spirit" is mentioned four times, there are drums and buffalos, and there is even one poem that says "Name us all,/ hundreds of tribes/ thousands of clans;/ many millions of lives." So I googled away, and while Mike Bond's CV is flaunted on different websites and has all kinds of info ("Active in political efforts to control the U.S. national debt and related problems" - ?), I found no trace of him being Native. So as he apparently isn't (please correct me if I'm wrong here!), I'd like to argue that WASPs should work on their own poetry and not appropriate Native American culture.

- The book has a preface in which Bond rants about "the poetry professionals, umbilically tied to welfare stipends from politically correct universities and mindless foundations" - you can of course throw around such dismissive and arrogant statements, but you have to be able to back them up, and Bond's oeuvre does not stand a chance against the likes of Robin Robertson and Danez Smith. Poetry needs to be easy to decode, Bond argues, and poetry has never had it as good as right now because of the great rock bands who sing it. I find it funny to bring up such a (questionable) argument and then to omit poets like Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z - if there is poetry in contemporary music, you have to celebrate rap first and foremost.

More importantly, though: You don't tell me what poetry has to be, Bond! I want my poetry to be all kinds of things, unrestricted by rules, I want accessible and emotional poetry, I want complicated, puzzling poetry, I want political poetry, spiritual poetry, sung and spoken poetry, I want rap, I want poetry for the masses and for the niches, I want poetry in universities and in factories, I want it all, Bond, all of it!!
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Reading Progress

October 10, 2018 – Shelved
October 10, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
October 10, 2018 – Shelved as: usa
October 15, 2018 – Started Reading
October 15, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018-read
October 15, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-14 of 14 (14 new)

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message 1: by Dan (new)

Dan Meike wrote: "More importantly, though: You don't tell me what poetry has to be, Bond! I want my poetry to be all kinds of things"

Great review, Meike, and an important sentiment too.


Meike Thank you, Dan! I wanted to love this, but I couldn't...


Denise Great review. I read a lot of poetry, and write it too. I found this collection simplistic and trite, at best. I also felt the writer--I won't call him poet-- was arrogant without justification, as his work lacks the merit required to justify arrogance. I have no false impressions that my poetry will ever equal that of the numerous great poetic voices active today.

And I agree that non-native writers, not just poets, should leave native subjects and symbols to native poets and writers. His use of these seemed an act of piracy to me. Native poetry is thriving today because of the poets' mastery of their own experience. Non -natives have no right to steal or borrow from experience that is not their own. I cite Sherman Alexie's novel Indian Killer as a good native portrayal of the fallibility of white "experts" coopting a culture they are not a part of.


Meike Denise wrote: "Great review. I read a lot of poetry, and write it too. I found this collection simplistic and trite, at best. I also felt the writer--I won't call him poet-- was arrogant without justification, as..."

Thank you very much for your comment, Denise! Fun fact: Just yesterday, I received my library copy of "Indian Killer", and after reading your thoughts I'm even more curious about the book!!


message 5: by Julie (new)

Julie Ehlers Great review, Meike! I also have tremendous admiration for Ferlinghetti, but I think I'll be avoiding this.


Meike Julie wrote: "Great review, Meike! I also have tremendous admiration for Ferlinghetti, but I think I'll be avoiding this."

Thank you so much, Julie! I just saw that you already added Ferlinghetti's new book Little Boy: A Novel - I am so excited about that one!!


message 7: by Julie (new)

Julie Ehlers Meike wrote: "Thank you so much, Julie! I just saw that you already added Ferlinghetti's new book Little Boy: A Novel - I am so excited about that one!!"

Yes--I'm so curious about it!


Meike Julie wrote: "Yes--I'm so curious about it!"

Ooohh - one day, I want to visit City Lights Books...Ferlinghetti, what a legend!


message 9: by Julie (new)

Julie Ehlers I went once and I loved it so much--the store and the whole neighborhood. One day I'm going again and staying in a hotel nearby so I can just walk the streets of North Beach and go to the bookstore every day.


Meike Julie wrote: "I went once and I loved it so much--the store and the whole neighborhood. One day I'm going again and staying in a hotel nearby so I can just walk the streets of North Beach and go to the bookstore..."

How cool - that sounds like a perfect plan! (Thankfully, only the other bookworms here on GR are reading this, people who don't LOVE books would think we are crazy because we are dreaming of vacationing at a bookstore! :-))


message 11: by Julie (new)

Julie Ehlers Bookstore tourism is the best kind of tourism. :)


Meike :-) :-) :-)


message 13: by A Storied Soul (new)

A Storied Soul In response to your comment that "WASPs should work on their own poetry and not appropriate Native American culture," this is something that really isn't up to you,--it's a racist view to suggest someone shouldn't write something based on their nationality or race--and you can't assume his culture doesn't include First Nation heritage at some point on his family tree. There are many people who may be mixed but do not have tribal connection, or any number of reasons. The very use of the term "WASP" is divisive. Having First Nation heritage is a multi-faceted thing. I, myself, am First Nation, but I do not have tribal connection as my grandfather did not submit to government or tribal registration. It seems to be only white people gatekeeping the issue. Many First Nations people are just happy their stories are still being told--a vast difference between appreciation and cultural appropriation. This would be the latter, especially in consideration of his philosophies on life.


message 14: by Meike (last edited Apr 25, 2019 05:56AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Meike So it's up to you to decide what I can and cannot judge? Do you see how you are contradicting yourself? I clearly adressed that I was making an assumption re this author("he apparently isn't (Native) (please correct me if I'm wrong here!)"), and not only do I seem to be correct, I also think it's ridiculous to say that fighting cultural appropriation is a racist view. Many Native activists do fight the use of their culture as ornament, which is how I read this text, and Native people clearly don't have to be "happy their stories are still being told" by white guys, because there are numerous fantastic Native writers. What do you even mean with "still"? If I want to hear the stories of Native people, I read one of the many award-winning Native authors, like Tommy Orange, Brandon Hobson, Joshua Whitehead, Terese Marie Mailhot, Tommy Pico, Tanya Tagaq, Louise Erdrich, or Sherman Alexie - so much for the "still" present Native lit and people "gatekeeping" the issue. None of them are found on your shelves, so maybe you could consider supporting Native authors by reading their books instead of defending this kitsch as a guy "still" telling Native stories.


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