poem index


Kimberly Blaeser

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Kimberly Blaeser

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.


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

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

by this poet


White Earth Reservation, 1938:
peaked lodge
bark house
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


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
of breath bone and basket 
rest heavy
sink deep
like wintering frogs.
And no dustbowl


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