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About this poet

Sherwin Bitsui is originally from White Cone, Arizona, on the Navajo reservation. He is Diné of the Todích’ii’nii, born for the Tlizí-laaní. He received an AFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and a BA from the University of Arizona in Tuscon.

Bitsui is the author of Dissolve (Copper Canyon Press, 2018); Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press, 2009), which received a 2010 PEN Open Book Award; and Shapeshift (University of Arizona Press, 2003).

Of his work, Sherman Alexie writes, “Sherwin Bitsui sees violent beauty in the American landscape. There are junipers, black ants, axes, and cities dragging their bridges. I can hear Whitman’s drums in these poems and I can see Ginsberg’s supermarkets.”

He is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Native Arts & Culter Foundation Arts Fellowship, a grant from the Witter Bynner Foundation, and a Whiting Writers’ Award. He teaches in the low-residency MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


Bibliography

Dissolve (Copper Canyon Press, 2018)
Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press, 2009
Shapeshift (University of Arizona Press, 2003)

from "Dissolve" [On limbs of slanted light]

On limbs of slanted light
painted with my mind’s skin color,
I step upon black braids,
oil-drenched, worming
from last month’s orphaned mouth.

Winged with burning—
I ferry them
               from my filmed eyes, wheezing.

Scalp blood in my footprints—
my buckskin pouch filling
               with photographed sand.

No language but its rind
               crackling in the past tense.

From Dissolve. Copyright © 2018 by Sherwin Bitsui. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

From Dissolve. Copyright © 2018 by Sherwin Bitsui. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Sherwin Bitsui

Sherwin Bitsui

Sherwin Bitsui is a Diné from the Navajo reservation in White Cone, Arizona, and the author of Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press, 2009).

by this poet

poem
Point north, north where they walk
in long blankets of curled bark,
dividing a line in the sand,
smelling like cracked shell,
desert wind, river where they left you
calling wolves from the hills,
	a list of names
growling from within the whirlwind.

Woman from the north,
lost sister who clapped at rain clouds.
poem
1.
I haven’t _________
since smoke dried to salt in the lakebed,
since crude oil dripped from his parting slogan,
the milk’s sky behind it,
birds chirping from its wig.

Strange, how they burrowed into the side of this rock.
Strange . . . to think,
they "belonged"
and stepped through the flowering of a future
poem

The city’s neon embers
stripe the asphalt’s blank page
where this story pens itself nightly;
where ghosts weave their oily hair
into his belt of ice,
dress him in pleated shadows
and lay him fetal
on the icy concrete—
the afterbirth of sirens glistening over him.

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