Whiting Award Winner Layli Long Soldier reads from her powerful poetry collection, Whereas.
This event is co-sponsored by Black Mountain Circle.
Whereas confronts the coercive language of the United States government in its responses, treaties, and apologies to Native American peoples and tribes, and reflects that language in its officiousness and duplicity back on its perpetrators. Through a virtuosic array of short lyrics, prose poems, longer narrative sequences, resolutions, and disclaimers, Layli Long Soldier has created a brilliantly innovative text to examine histories, landscapes, her own writing, and her predicament inside national affiliations. “I am,” she writes, “a citizen of the United States and an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, meaning I am a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation—and in this dual citizenship I must work, I must eat, I must art, I must mother, I must friend, I must listen, I must observe, constantly I must live.” This strident, plaintive book introduces a major new voice in contemporary literature.
Praise for Whereas:
“Whereas, the need to poet is carried from one generation to the next. Whereas, those of us who have gone before keep watch to see who will emerge to take on the burden of history, to make poems of blood and love. Whereas, we need poems that will wind through the broken places in our gutted imagination. Whereas, Layli Long Soldier is one of the finest singers of her generation to be called through the doorway of poetry. Whereas, in this first collection she has made a stunning poetry of tribal-personal awareness, injustice and words tightened with the sinew of truth. Whereas, in these poems there can be no false claims, no boundaries, no treaties. Whereas, these poems are a young Oglala Lakota poet taking her place, as she follows in the path of buffalo, horses, Indian cars, and patient ancestors. Whereas, we are in a century still drenched in gunshot and longing. Whereas, these poems are the songs you need to make it through to the other side.”—Joy Harjo
“It’s no exaggeration to say that I was blown away when I read Layli Long Soldier’s WHEREAS—such trenchant, beautiful thinking and writing about the relationship between official political speech and literature’s capacity to write back. And write back Long Soldier does, with a sensibility so tough and gentle, so sure of itself and so questioning, that I find myself simply standing back in admiration, savoring every perfect, necessary word of her intervention. I imagine the whole of WHEREAS one day being read in its entirety to and from the hilltops, in all its intimate wonder. I hope to be there.”—Maggie Nelson
About Layli Long Soldier:
Layli Long Soldier holds a BFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MFA with Honors from Bard College. She is on the English faculty at Diné College. She has served as a contributing editor to Drunken Boat. Her poems and critical work have appeared in The American Poet, The American Reader, The Kenyon Review Online, American Indian Journal of Culture and Research, PEN America, The Denver Quarterly and The Brooklyn Rail, among others.