Indian Giver

Indian Giver

by John Smelcer

Published by: Leapfrog Press

132 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 1 B&W illustration

  • Paperback
  • 9781935248804
  • Published: April 2016


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"Poetry at its most satirical and courageous. A tremendous book."—Seamus Heaney

"Few voices in American literature are so honest and daring."—Mark Strand

"One of our most brilliant poets."—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

"I feel the primal grain and temper of the genuine here."—William Heyen

"A lament, a protest, an inextinguishable song."—Sherod Santos

"Among the best and most original poets in America."—Stanley Kunitz

"Nothing short of splendid."—Robert Nazarene

"The kind of energy found in the poems of William Carlos Williams and Gary Snyder."—Joseph Bruchac

These poems tell harsh truths of hopelessness and genocide. The confusion of children whose religion is forbidden; the ironic poverty of a lottery winner; an alternate American history in which Columbus turns and sails away—in deceptively simple language, we hear the protest of survivors. "'Indian' is not a derogatory word. It's what we call ourselves."


At ten, Mary Caught-in-Between
came home from sunday school,
told every animal and bird and fish
they couldn't talk anymore,
told her drum it couldn't sing anymore,
told her feet they couldn't dance anymore,
told her words they weren't words anymore,
told Raven and Coyote they weren't gods anymore,
said god was a starving white man
with long hair and blue eyes and a beard
who no one loved enough to save
when they nailed him to a totem pole.

John Smelcer has written over forty books of poetry and prose. He is a member of the Alaskan Ahtna tribe.