The Crooked Beak of Love

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In the honest and expressive collection of poetry that follows, Niatum introduces the reader to his most beautiful and intimate experiences: from wandering the time-worn streets of Rome or looking over the dream-haunted waters of Neah Bay.

Available in paperback only.  The Crooked Beak of Love, by Duane Niatum.  2000, 69 pages.

Duane Niatum identifies as a “mixed-blood” Indian, and one who faces the paradox of living with the influences of mainstream white culture and also according to the ways his Klallum grandfather taught him. In his preface to The Crooked Beak of Love, he explains that his poetry has helped him to bridge these two worlds:

“I have, without exception, believed it extremely important to maintain a balance and give my reader the wholeness of my experience through living in both worlds. Fortunately, time has shown me how to live within this paradox. Art continues to offer the opportunity of surviving in both worlds no matter how challenging that may become at times.”

In the honest and expressive collection of poetry that follows, Niatum introduces the reader to his most beautiful and intimate experiences: from wandering the time-worn streets of Rome or looking over the dream-haunted waters of Neah Bay. In his poem “To Our Salish Woman Who Weave the Seasons,” he describes the last of his family to be a basketmaker. He writes: “These women clack / humor-rattles and teach us the power of laughter / to switch the lights back on, soothe our fears, / tie our family and the villages to the center / of the basket.”

Whether it’s a poignant poem-letter to his son seeking to heal the wounds he gave him (“Son, This is What I Can Tell You”), a chronicled fight with a lover (“Love Changed Our Spirits and the Dance”), or a celebration of a winter day (“Poem to Leave Under a Tree”), Niatum’s poetry will enchant the reader to dive into each particular moment with him.

A native of Seattle, influenced by the life and stories of his Klallum grandfather, Duane Niatum has written five earlier poetry collections. He has taught at eight American colleges and universities, won numerous book awards, and read from his works at the International Poetry Festival and the Library of Congress. He also edited Harper’s Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry.

Publisher:  West End Press
Culture Group:  Klallam