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The Monday Poem > November 3rd, 2014 - "The Powwow at the End of the World" by Sherman Alexie

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message 1: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Ian that's a wonderful poem and a great 'ramble' to wake up to. I love how in the beginning I was slightly lost, struggled to place the poem until slowly, through that repetition that has something almost meditative and the journey that I could have happily seen going on and on I saw a landscape and vivid imagery of the poem unfold.

I've just paused my comment to read a little about Salish, and found out that it's a language family (do you say that in English?) consisting of around 23 individual languages some kept alive by no more than a handful of people, some spoken by one or two thousand people. Are there attempts to prevent it from slowly dying out entirely?


message 2: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments Thanks, Ian. This is great and I very enjoyed the poem, and also your explanation as to why you chose it. I didn't know Sherman Alexie's poems, although I've read a couple of books by him.


message 3: by Greg (last edited Nov 03, 2014 02:17AM) (new)

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Thanks Ian; I like the exaggerated language of it. I actually wasn't familiar with Alexie's poetry. When I lived in Arizona, I became familiar with some other Native American poets that I liked, Joy Harjo and Linda Hogan, for instance, but this is the first (and only) poem of Alexie's that I've read.

It now occurs to me that the poem in its shifting repetition is a little like a rhythm for a popwow itself. I can see how he would be a hit at poetry slams! Harjo has some similar poems in style.

Have you seen the movie Smoke Signals that he wrote the screenplay for (as you mention below)? I found it an utterly charming movie and quite moving too. A multi talented guy.


message 4: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Ian, a great poem! I am unfamiliar with Alexie so I appreciated the biographical info. I'll have to add him to my growing list of poets to read!


message 5: by Greg (new)

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Ian, I've heard that about the film being based on the stories - it's on my to-read list!


message 6: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Ian, thank you very much for sharing this poem. I am reminded of my own childhood, living in Northwestern Ontario very close to a reservation. When the native children at the nearby residential school completed the elementary grades, they attended the high school in town. Racism was rampant in those days and no one realized what pain it caused. I have vivid memories of the terror in the eyes of my native class-mates and their reluctance to believe that a white hand which, figuratively, was being extended to them could possibly be extended in friendship. This is one of the most painful memories of my teen years, made all the more poignant by the farcical government "apology" and the continuing marginalization of the First Peoples of this land. It is small wonder that forgiveness does not come easily.


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