Published January 14, 2016
BERKELEY— Poets, writers, artists, musicians, and supporters of the creative process gathered together for the launch of a very special new anthology of poetry at Heydey Books in Berkeley, California. This is the publishing company started by Malcolm Margolin, (now retired) publisher of “News from Native California” as well as “The Ohlone Way” so many years ago, in order to provide a place where California’s indigenous people could tell their own stories, in their own way.
This new anthology, “Red Indian Road West: Native American Poetry from California,” published by Scarlet Tanager Books and edited by Kurt Schweigman (Oglala Lakota) and Lucille Lang Day (Wampanoag, British) continues the legacy of providing a book where indigenous people tell our own stories in our unique voices.
“To the best of our knowledge, there are no previous poetry anthologies encompassing the entire range of Native American experience in California. With more than 720,000 Native Americans, California has the largest Native American population of any state, and perhaps the most diverse. Currently there are more than 100 American Indian tribes indigenous to California, as well as many Native Americans from tribes nationwide now residing in the state,” explained Lucille Lang Day. There are 31 poets included in this anthology representing 29 tribes.
The book includes an introduction by performance artist/writer James Luna (Payomkawichum or Luiseno) from La Jolla Reservation in North County, San Diego, California. Luna writes, “We are many times strangers in our own land, or made to feel so. There are many tribal home places that have survived the holocaust. There is great joy, sorrow, pain, and displacement for many of our tribes and for the other tribes from other parts of Turtle Island who have come here to make this place their home. I felt all this and more in reading the thoughts, reflections, and memories of the writers who are contributors to this book.”
“The impetus for this anthology, began in a dream. Lucy and I read together twice, once at the Marin Poetry Center in San Rafael, then again at a reading I organized to raise awareness about Leonard Peltier. After this second reading, Lucy had a dream where we read together from an anthology we had edited. I told her that we should create this book,” said Schweigman. “Yes, and in the process, Kurt’s daughter (whose name is Lucy) and my granddaughter became good friends,” said Day. The goal of the anthology is to present poems that explore the experience of being Native American and living in California. Poets who read at the first book launch included Indira Allegra (Tsalagi-Cherokee), Nanette Bradley Deetz (Dakota, Tsalagi, German), E.K. Cooper (Round Valley Pomo), Alison Hart (African American, Passamaquoddy, Irish/Scottish/English), Kim Shuck (Tsalagi, Sauk, Fox), Kurt Schweigman, Editor (Oglala Lakota), Lucille Lang Day, Editor, Publisher (Wampanoag). The book’s cover included a photo of an exquisite piece of bead work of a California green sturgeon by poet/artist Kim Shuck.
Kurt Schweigman has published and performed as Luke Warm Water in the past. His poetry appears in “Shedding Skins: Four Sioux Poets” (Michigan University Press, 2008). Kurt was a featured poet at the prestigious Geraldine R. Dodge 12th Biennial Poetry Festival (2008) and the first spoken word poet to receive an Archibald Bush Foundation artist fellowship in literature. He has won Poetry Slam competitions across the United States and in Germany. Currently he resides in Oakland, California, and is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota tribe.
Lucille Lang Day has published ten poetry collections and chapbooks, including “Becoming An Ancestor” (Cervena Barva, 2015), “Dreaming of Sunflowers: Museum Poems” (Blue Light, 2015). She is also the author of a children’s book, “Chain Letter” and a memoir, “Married at Fourteen: A True Story,” which received a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award and was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award in Creative Nonfiction. Her poems, short stories, and essays have appeared widely in literary magazines and anthologies. She is the founder and director of Scarlet Tanager Books, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and a PhD in science/mathematics education from UC Berkeley. She lives in Oakland, and is of Wampanoag, British, and Swiss/German descent.
“Red Indian Road West: Native American Poetry from California” can be purchased on Amazon, Small Press Distribution, or by visiting most book stores. For more information, visit www.scarlettanagerbooks.com.
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