This week, we hear from one of the co-editors of the first historically comprehensive Native poetry anthology – yes the very first. It’s called When The Light of The World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry. It was edited by Poet Laureate Joy Harjo with Jennifer Elise Foerster and LeAnne Howe.
Organized by geographical region, each section begins with a poem from traditional oral literatures and closes with an emerging poet. Contributors range from Eleazar, a seventeenth-century Native student at Harvard, to Jake Skeets, a Diné poet born in 1991.
The poet, translator, and critic André Naffis-Sahely reviewed the anthology in the April 2021 issue of Poetry. Today he speaks with co-editor LeAnne Howe about how the anthology came to be, and why it took so long to get here. Howe, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, opens the conversation with a Choctaw chant.
You’ll hear two poems from the anthology. Ishki, Mother, Upon Leaving the Choctaw Homelands, 1831 by LeAnne Howe and The Old Man’s Lazy by Peter Blue Cloud.