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About this poet

Joan Naviyuk Kane is the author of two books of poetry: Hyperboreal (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013) and The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife (NorthShore Press, 2009). Her honors include the Association of Writers & Writing Programs’ Donald Hall Prize and a Whiting Writers’ Award. An Alaska Native and member of the Inupiaq people—with family from King Island and Mary’s Igloo—Kane teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts and lives in Anchorage.

Nunaqtigiit(people related through common possession of territory)

The enemy misled that missed the island in the fog,
I believe in one or the other, but both exist now
        to confuse me. Dark from dark.

Snow from snow. I believe in one—

Craggy boundary, knife blade at the throat’s slight swell.

From time to time the sound of voices
                                    as through sun-singed grass,

or grasses that we used to insulate the walls of our winter houses—
walrus hides lashed together with rawhide cords.

So warm within the willows ingathered forced into leaf.

I am named for your sister Naviyuk: call me apoŋ.

Surely there are ghosts here, my children sprung
        from these deeper furrows.

The sky of my mind against which self-
                                               betrayal in its sudden burn
        fails to describe the world.

We, who denied the landscape
                                               and saw the light of it.

Leaning against the stone wall ragged
I began to accept my past and, as I accepted it,

I felt, and I didn’t understand:
                                               I am bound to everyone.

Copyright © 2013 by Joan Kane. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2013 by Joan Kane. Used with permission of the author.

Joan Kane

Joan Naviyuk Kane

Joan Naviyuk Kane is the author of two books of poetry: Hyperboreal (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013) and The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife (NorthShore Press, 2009). Her honors include the Association of Writers & Writing Programs’ Donald Hall Prize and a Whiting Writers’ Award. An Alaska Native and member of the Inupiaq people—with family from King Island and Mary’s Igloo—Kane teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts and lives in Anchorage.

by this poet

poem

I let him do what he will to me—
we are traveling into the waves
and the ocean is torn by swells.

I am cautious. The moon,
it can barely be sensed,
it cannot be helped.

I learned something, I am learning.
I am untangling a rope.
I am caught by a breaking wave.

The

poem

“I remember the birds ever so many of them when I hunted with the weapons of a child. The water was covered in their numbers, red as the flowers of summer on the mountain. The red phalarope were our prey of choice, there were so many. Today, these birds return yearly, but now only a few return home in spring to