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Follow the Blackbirds

Poems by Gwen Nell Westerman

Publication Year: 2013

In language as perceptive as it is poignant, poet Gwen Nell Westerman builds a world in words that reflects the past, present, and future of the Dakota people. An intricate balance between the singularity of personal experience and the unity of collective longing, Follow the Blackbirds speaks to the affection and appreciation a contemporary poet feels for her family, community, and environment. With touches of humor and the occasional sharp cultural criticism, the voice that emerges from these poems is that of a Dakota woman rooted in her world and her words. In this moving collection, Westerman reflects on history and family from a unique perspective, one that connects the painful past and the hard-fought future of her Dakota homeland. Grounded in vivid story and memory, Westerman draws on both English and the Dakota language to celebrate the long journey along sunflower-lined highways of the tallgrass prairies of the Great Plains that returns her to a place filled with “more than history.” An intense homage to the power of place, this book tells a masterful story of cultural survival and the power of language.

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-5

Contents

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pp. v-vi

I.

Follow the Blackbirds

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pp. 3-4

A Trade

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pp. 5-7

School Days

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pp. 8-9

Innocent Captives

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pp. 10-19

Mourning Song

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pp. 11-20

Dying of Thirst

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pp. 12-21

Linear Process

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pp. 13-22

Saving Scraps

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pp. 14-17

Dead End

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pp. 18-27

Early Freeze

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pp. 19-28

Henana Epe Kte

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pp. 20-29

Quantum Theory

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pp. 21-30

Genetic Code

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pp. 22-31

Feed Them

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pp. 23-24

II.

This Is My Explaining Ceremony

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pp. 27-36

Red Earth Gathering

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pp. 28-37

Journey

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pp. 29-38

Flint Hills Release

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pp. 30-39

First Flight

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pp. 31-40

Where the Buffalo Roam

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pp. 32-33

No Contest

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pp. 34-43

Linear Perspective

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pp. 35-44

Monet on the Northern Plains

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pp. 36-37

Road Song

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pp. 38-47

Delisted

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pp. 39-48

Root Words

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pp. 40-41

At Spirit Lake

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pp. 42-51

Ḣe Keya Woabdakedaŋ

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pp. 43-44

III.

Venetian

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pp. 47-56

Skin Essentials

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pp. 48-49

Why He Teaches the Language

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pp. 50-59

Daḳota Odowaŋ

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pp. 51-52

Morning Song

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pp. 53-62

Winuna

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pp. 54-63

Wicaŋḣpi Heciya Taŋhaŋ Uŋhipi (We Come from the Stars)

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pp. 55-64

The Lesson

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pp. 56-65

Tidal Force

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pp. 57-66

Owotaŋna Sececa

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pp. 58-67

Going Back

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pp. 59-60

Migration

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pp. 61-62

Wowicak’u

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pp. 63-72

Below the Surface

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pp. 64-66

Daḳota Alphabet and Orthography

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pp. 67-68

Glossary

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pp. 69-70

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 71-72

I am grateful to the editors of the following publications where my poems have previously appeared in print or online in different versions: “Where the Buffalo Roam,” “Root Words,” and “Awakening” in Natural Bridge (Fall 2011); “Dakota Odowaŋ” and “Wowicak’u/Feed Them” in Water-Stone Review (2010); ...


E-ISBN-13: 9781609173845
E-ISBN-10: 1609173848
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611860924
Print-ISBN-10: 161186092X

Page Count: 80
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1st

OCLC Number: 850178369
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Follow the Blackbirds