Sherman Alexie’s Top Ten Native American Poets

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In this week’s show, author Sherman Alexie praises the artistic and storytelling ability of Native Americans, so we asked Alexie to share the names of some of his favorite Native writers. Here’s his list and a sampling of their work.

Esther Belin


Esther Belin

Esther Belin is a Diné (Navajo) poet and multimedia artist who was raised in Los Angeles after her parents were relocated from the Southwest in the 1950s as part of the federal Indian relocation policy. Her work often reflects the experience of Native Americans living in urban centers.

Night Travel

I like to travel to L.A. by myself
My trips to the crowded smoggy polluted by brown
indigenous and immigrant haze are healing.
I travel from one pollution to another.
Being urban I return to where I came from
My mother
survives in L.A.
Now for over forty years.

I drive to L.A. in the darkness of the day
on the road before CHP
one with the dark
driving my black truck
invisible on my journey home.

The dark roads take me back to my childhood
riding in the camper of daddy’s truck headed home.
My brother, sister and I would be put to sleep in the
   camper
and sometime in the darkness of the day
daddy would clime into the cab with mom carrying a
   thermos full of coffee and some Pendleton blankets
And they would pray
before daddy started the truck
for journey mercies.

Read on »

From From the Belly of My Beauty by Esther Belin ©1999 The Arizona Board of Regents. Reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press.

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