A Native American Poet Excavates the Language of Occupation
By NATALIE DIAZAugust 4, 2017
By Layli Long Soldier
101 pp. Graywolf Press. Paper, $16.
The American poet Layli Long Soldier’s debut collection, “Whereas,” is in part a response to the Congressional resolution of apology to Native Americans, which President Obama signed in obscurity in 2009. There were no Native Americans present to receive the apology, as most never knew an apology was made. In an introduction to the title poem, Long Soldier writes: “My response is directed to the apology’s delivery, as well as the language, crafting and arrangement of the written document.” She is referring at least to the disclaimer that renders the document’s admissions of crimes null in legal matters. It can be argued she is referring to a more general language exercised in American documents, including American poetry. “Whereas” is an excavation, reorganization and documentation of a structure of language that has talked the United States through its many acts of violence. This book troubles our consideration of the language we use to carry our personal and national narratives.
(read the full article at the link posted above and buy her book)