Saturday, June 05, 2021

Mentioning the "native" in a poem while still erasing them

Jeff Daniel Marion's poem "Playing to the River" takes place in the moment of waiting "for the traffic light to change", as the poem's first-personal plural speaker ("we") sees and hears a woman playing bagpipes beside a river. This brief moment of present time fills up with "past lives:  fishermen / and riverboat gamblers, tugboat captains // and log raftsmen, pioneer and native / slipping through the eddies of time." These images of the people who stood beside the river in the past repeat a version of American history which may be willing to mention Native Americans but does not address the violence done to them by all those other figures. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 5 June 2021)


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