A major new collection of dazzling, surrealistic, entirely original poems by an American Book Award-winning Ojibwe author, whose work appears in two new Joy Harjo-edited anthologies.
In parcels and particles, letters, images, repetitive themes, rhythms and sounds, "Spirit Matters" invites views into shadow spheres, of creative memory, reinvention of storied characters and place, as reminders of how poetry might turn longing, back to the very sound memory makes as we honor the imaginative lives of people and place. A collection of poetry, informed by irretrievable letters of loss, love, trauma, forged by musing on imagined relatives, living, dead, yet to be, shaped by spirit of places of we can never return to without understanding the living power of memory, story and song.
Gordon Henry is an enrolled member/citizen of the White Earth Anishinaabe Nation in Minnesota. He is also a Professor in the English Department at Michigan State University, where he teaches American Indian Literature and Creative Writing. He serves as Senior Editor of the American Indian Studies Series at Michigan State University Press. In 1995, Henry received an American Book Award for his novel the Light People and his poetry, fiction and essays have been published extensively in the U.S. and Europe. In 2004, he co-published an educational reader on Ojibwe people with George Cornell. In 2007, Henry published a mixed-genre collection, The Failure of Certain Charms, with Salt Publishing. More recently Henry’s writing has appeared in, Bob Seger’s House, (Wayne State University Press); Iperstoria, a literary journal from the University of Verona, Italy; Revolucion: A Cuban Journal, of Havana; New Poets of Native Nations; Poetry; Wassafiri; and When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through (2020) and Living Nations, Living Words (2021)--two poetry anthologies edited by Joy Harjo. He lives in Empire, Michigan.
Praise for Spirit Matters
"Spirit Matters is haunted by people whose voices are so indelible they speak from a world beyond this one--a powerful country where stories are spells that inhabit the living. Gordon Henry has created a compelling, uncanny book."--Louise Erdrich, Pulitzer Prize winner for The Night Watchman, a novel
"A poetry of longing, Spirit Matters traces without flinching or euphemism the 'ghost licked' silence that follows death, the 'traveling again with no star / to follow to nowhere.' A fierce and intimate account of escalating losses--the 'tabernacle of grief' Henry depicts, he counters with a tribal and familial remembrance. In these traveling songs, we find no river of forgetfulness, but a tangle of interlocking stories and images. As the author's poetic counterpoint declares, 'Only lyric remains capable,' and these powerful poems leave tracks on the dark pathway of colonized grief 'just bright enough to light small worlds.'"--Kimberly Blaeser, author of Copper Yearning, Wisconsin Poet Laureate 2015-16
"Gordon Henry's evanescent words move like water over a stony river bed, at times sounding joyous and at others lamenting loss. A master wordsmith, he helps us feel the power of memory and pain that brings about healing and, sometimes, deeper understanding."--Gwen Nell Westerman, Minnesota State Poet Laureate