Drawings of the Song Animals

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Niatum has chosen fifteen poems from twenty-five years of work and also includes poems that have not appeared previously.



In Drawings of the Song Animals, Duane Niatum has chosen fifteen poems from twenty-five years of work and also included poems that have not appeared previously in a book. It is in part an autobiographical work that traces the development of Niatum’s poetic voice. And it is a voice of grace and respect, an asset in storytelling and literature.

His work is balanced: maintaining a connection to his Indian heritage without drifting into romanticism. He commands description: like calling aging “chewing time like a white rabbit” in his poem “Old Woman Awaiting the Greyhound Bus.” His graceful words not only allow the reader to see his characters, but to appreciate their memories. For example, that Old Woman at the bus station is: “Wearing a black-knit shawl that fed/ generations of moths, warmed the small bodies/ of many grandchildren, her face wrinkles/ into a smiling heap of eggshells.”

His poetry gives life to the buried voices of the Hadlock village, describes elder wisdom, cigar-store Indians, honors chiefs, and looks at haunting memories and colonial history.

Duane Niatum was born in Seattle, Washington and is a member of the Klallam tribe, whose ancestral lands are on the Washington coast along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. He served in the Navy for two years, then earned a degree in English from the University of Washington and an M.A. from Johns Hopkins University in 1972. After attending the University of Michigan for three years, he returned to Seattle in late autumn of 1990 to finish a Ph.D. dissertation on contemporary Northwest Coast painting and sculpture. His poetry, short stories, and essays have been published in such magazines as The Nation, Prairie Schooner, Northwest Review, The American Poetry Review and many other literary journals and anthologies. His collection of poems titled Songs for the Harvester of Dreams won the National Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation in 1982.

 

Author: Duane Niatum

Binding Availability: Paperback

Published: 1991

Tribes/Ethnic Groups: Klallam