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About this poet

Kimberly Blaeser was born in Billings, Montana, in 1955. Of Anishinaabe ancestry, she grew up on the White Earth Reservation in northwestern Minnesota and is an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. She received a BA from the College of Saint Benedict in 1977 and went on to study at the University of Notre Dame, where she received an MA in 1982 and a PhD in 1990.

Blaeser is the author of Apprenticed to Justice (Salt Publishing, 2007), Absentee Indians and Other Poems (Michigan State University Press, 2002), and Trailing You (Greenfield Review Press, 1994), winner of the Diane Decorah First Book Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas.

Allison Hedge Coke writes, “Kim Blaeser is a knock-out poet, bringing boxers to steal hearts, floured fists to punch dough, and a serious sense of familial White Earth beauty, hunger, and humility that’s impossible to put down.”

In 2015, the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters named Blaeser the poet laureate of Wisconsin. Also the recipient of a Wisconsin Arts Board Artist Fellowship, Blaeser is active in several literary and social justice organizations, including the Milwaukee Native American Literary Cooperative. She currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.


Bibliography

Poetry
Apprenticed to Justice (Salt Publishing, 2007)
Absentee Indians and Other Poems (Michigan State University Press, 2002)
Trailing You (Greenfield Review Press, 1994)

Prose
Gerald Vizenor: Writing in the Oral Tradition (University of Oklahoma Press, 2012)

After Words

Because the smallness of our being
is our only greatness.

Because one night I was in a room
listening until only one heart beat.

Because in these last years I’ve
worn and worn and nearly worn out
my black funeral shoes.

Because the gesture of after words
means the same thing no matter
who speaks them.
Because faith belief forever
are only words, no matter.
Because matter disappears
always and eventually.
Because action is not matter
but energy
that spent, changes being.

And if death, too, is a change of being
perhaps action counts.
And if death is a land of unknowing,
perhaps we do well to live with uncertainty.
And if death is a forested land,
it would be good to learn trees.
And if death is a kingdom,
it would be good to practice service.
And if death is a foreign state
we should loosen allegiance to this one.
And if the soul leaves our body
then we must rehearse goodbye.

Originally published in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Issue 54. Copyright © 2014 by Kimberly Blaeser. Used with the permission of the author.

Originally published in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Issue 54. Copyright © 2014 by Kimberly Blaeser. Used with the permission of the author.

Kimberly Blaeser

Kimberly Blaeser

Kimberly Blaeser is the author of Apprenticed to Justice (Salt Publishing, 2007). She teaches at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.

by this poet

poem

White Earth Reservation, 1938:
wigwam
peaked lodge
bark house
tipi
log house
tar-paper shack
frame house
u.s. rehabitilation house.
sister hilger
you counted each one—
seventy-one tar-paper shacks,
eight united states rehabilitation

poem

The weight of ashes
from burned-out camps.
Lodges smoulder in fire,
animal hides wither
their mythic images shrinking
pulling in on themselves,
all incinerated
fragments
of breath bone and basket 
rest heavy
sink deep
like wintering frogs.
And no dustbowl

poem

Don’t hurry to safety.
Each hour your flowered room grows smaller.
Everywhere at the periphery of vision
windows shatter into triangles
of mosaic light.
There in the lonely fragments
a youtube dictator
declares victory,
blood flattens and darkens.
The scent of rebellion