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2 0 8 WAL 3 5 .1 S U M M E R 2 0 0 0 speculated Posey held, preferring instead to “present my own eclectically informed interpretations” (6). In addition, careless comments undermine Kosmider’s effort to make a place for Posey in the canon. She reinforces negative stereotypes by suggesting that in Posey’s “The Indian’s Past Olympic,” the poem changes to focus “on what the speaker believes are the Indians’ uncivilized beliefs and morals” and that it “focuses on this ‘frenzied’ dancing, alluding to the Indians’ demonlike behavior” (45, 46). Kosmider also denies the importance of traditional beliefs and stories when she proposes that Posey’s “stories recreate a mythical time” (97). Pejorative descriptors such as “demonlike,” “uncivilized,” and “mythical” tend to demean Indian people, as do obvious omissions and enors in history. In preparing the historical framework for Posey’s “conflicted position,” the author presents this description of the disastrous Indian Removal Act of 1830: “Hundreds made this long trek to Indian territory, with more than one-fourth dying from exposure or exhaustion” (10). More than 20,000 Muskogee (Creek) people were removed to Indian Territory in 1836 and 1837, not “hun­ dreds” as Kosmider misstates. Kosmider acknowledges in Tricky Tribal Discourse that contemporary Indian writing has been introduced into the American literature canon by critics who “have forged ahead without understanding its origins and multiple functions” (98). By emphasizing Euro-American models and disregarding Creek tribal knowledge and history, Tricky Tribal Discourse does not present an understanding of who Alex Posey was as a Creek writer and how Creek tradi­ tions informed his identity and his work. Unfortunately, by taking a reductive and inexact approach to Posey and his writing, Kosmider has unwittingly fol­ lowed a path well worn by non-Native scholars who need to believe that “Indian” and “modem” are mutually exclusive terms. It’s time to give up wellintentioned “analyses” of “culturally conflicted mixed-blood” writers and focus on the contributions Native writers make to American literature rather than on their blood quantum. From the Belly of My Beauty. By Esther Belin. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1999. 85 pages, $14-95. Reviewed by Carey Emmons Utah State University, Logan The power of poetry often lies in the artist’s interpretative eye. For Esther Belin, poetry serves not to interpret, but to create. Her collection of poems titled From theBelly ofMy Beauty supersedes interpretation as her words express a new type of existence. Working to create a new and viable identity for the urban Native American, Belin observes, questions, and finds answers to the seeming chaos and injustices of life. Her poems bargain between what is and what might be until that new identity is found. Expression is her creator. b o o k R e v ie w s 2 0 9 The first section of poems carries the reader through a compromise of socially defined roles and titles. For the speakers of these poems, identity is imposed by race, tribal role numbers, family, and memory. In her poem titled “Case Study #311,990,” Belin questions her ability to exist free from these impositions, asking, “Is there a form / posing to exist / as a reverse? / Absence of being?” And then, abandoning the question for a clearer answer, “The pas­ sageway to my existence / is my tongue” (17-18). For Belin, expression through and around language becomes the building tool for self-construction. The next two sections serve to provide alternative answers to this initial question about the rules of existence, turning from the external perceptions to personal introspection. But, as Belin relates, social distinctions can never be fully escaped. Ruby, the subject and often speaker of the second section, voices the anger and contention caught between the limitations of social casting and the freedom of personal construction. Ruby’s rage is both introduced and excused with Belin’s opening explanation, “from the / melodic muse in my belly 11create what lives: survival. . (23). Ruby’s anger grows most heated when she responds to a blonde woman’s claim on Indian sisterhood by saying, “Why do you want to be a statistic and a census number and a / dropout and a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 208-209
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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