He has been out there somewhere for a while now, a poet at large in America. Simon Ortiz, one of our finest living poets, has been a witness, participant, and observer of interactions between the Euro-American cultural world and that of his Native American people for many years. In this collection of haunting new work, he confronts moments and instances of his personal past—and finds redemption in the wellspring of his culture. A writer known for deeply personal poetry, Ortiz has produced perhaps his most personal work to date. In a collage of journal entries, free-verse poems, and renderings of poems in the Acoma language, he draws on life experiences over the past ten years—recalling time spent in academic conferences and writers' colonies, jails and detox centers—to convey something of the personal and cultural history of dislocation. As an American Indian artist living at times on the margins of mainstream culture, Ortiz has much to tell about the trials of alcoholism, poverty, displacement. But in the telling he affirms the strength of Native culture even under the most adverse conditions and confirms the sustaining power of Native beliefs and connections: "With our hands, we know the sacred earth. / With our spirits, we know the sacred sky." Like many of his fellow Native Americans, Ortiz has been "out there somewhere"—Portland and San Francisco, Freiburg, Germany, and Martinique—away from his original homeland, culture, and community. Yet, as these works show, he continues to be absolutely connected socially and culturally to Native identity: "We insist that we as human cultural beings must always have this connection," he writes, "because it is the way we maintain a Native sense of existence." Drawing on this storehouse of places, times, and events, Out There Somewhere is a rich fusion taking readers into the heart and soul of one of today's most exciting and original American poets.
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Published January 1, 2002
by University of Arizona Press.
Literature & Fiction.