National Monuments

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Heid E. Erdrich asks us to think differently about national monuments in this sarcastic, then elegiac, poetry collection.

 

 


With her tongue firmly in cheek, Heid E. Erdrich asks us to think differently about national monuments in this sarcastic, then elegiac, then loving three-part poetry collection.

She picks fights—rightfully so—with historians, archaeologists, even the national identity in the first section, “Grave Markers.” In her poem “Desecrate,” Erdrich provides a terse list of thirteen acts of would-be desecration, like bulldozing the Sistene Chapel and salting the Peace Gardens.

“American Ghosts” is the second section in which Erdrich reflects on keeping a ghost lodge, a signal of peace that forgives grudges, on “Not Seeing Ground Zero in 2005” on a trip to Manhattan, and on Native American Barbie dolls and being told, “Your mother was an Indian Princess.”

“American Ghosts” includes her poem “Infinite Progression,” an honest poem about seeing our identities reflected back at us. A certain Elsie saw herself in a bathroom mirror once and “saw how one mirror / gives back another / and that one gives another back / until dozens reflect in one frame. / That, she thought, is me: / Connected in all directions, / a walking picture of infinity.” Like other poems in this collection, “Infinite Progression” takes a literal look at identity, blood relation and multiculturalism.

“Discovery: An RSS Feed Series” is the third section, a delightful ensemble of mocked news headlines, the unfortunate true story of selling bones on eBay and other culturally appropriated calamities.

These poems teach a lesson and then shout, “Take that!” to those who disagreed with it before.

Heid E. Erdrich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibway, won a Minnesota Voices award for her first poetry collection Fishing for Myth. She also authored The Mother’s Tongue and co-edited Sister Nations: Native American Women Writers on Community. Erdrich gives writing and workshops and serves as visiting writer at colleges and universities across the country.

 

 

 

Author: Heid E. Erdrich

Binding Availability: Paperback 

Published: 2008

Tribes/Ethnic Groups: Ojibwe