Weaving the Boundary by Karenne Wood is, without a doubt, one of my favorite books of the year.
The very thorough summary for this poetry volume states that the collection "explores personal and collective memories and contemporary American Indian realities through lenses of human loss, desire, violence, and love." Yes it does, and, the success of that exploration originates with how Wood expresses those realities through poetry, and weaves history with contemporary issues. Her prose is gentle, lyrical or vigorous one moment, and deeply intimate the next. And haunting, always haunting! This powerful poetry collection shines with truth. Highly recommended.
All four parts of Weaving the Boundary: Keep Faith, Heights, Past Silence, and The Naming are meaningful and intense. Tough as it was to choose, I decided to highlight an excerpt from The Naming.
The Naming (excerpt)
Names have determined the world.
To use them, call language out whole,
immersing yourself in its sounds.
We are made from words, stories,
infinite chances through which
we imagine ourselves. Estranging
ourselves from the sensual world
in which language was born, we will die.
What if, as through history, a language
dies out, if its names cannot be uttered
or if they exist mapped
as place markers no one interprets:
Passapatanzy, Chattanooga, Saratoga?
They are part of the ground,
a language of vanishing symbols.
Is this what we are now?
a language of shattered dispersal?
Grief keeps watch
across a field darker than water.
We live in a wounded space,
voiceless cries breaking with all
utterance, even the idea of utterance.
Without a vocabulary, how
does the story continue? in words
that have murdered the people
before us, their voices airborne
like corn pollen, out into the desert?
About the Author: Karenne Wood holds an MFA in poetry from George Mason University and a PhD in linguistic anthropology from the University of Virginia. She is an enrolled member of the Monacan Indian Nation and has served on the Monacan Tribal Council for many years. She directs the Virginia Indian Programs at the Virginia Foundation for Humanities.