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Indian Giver

poems

John Smelcer

Illustration by R. Crumb

An exploration of what it means to be Native American
in the 21st century, replete with irony and wit.

These poems tell harsh truths of hopelessness and genocide. The confusion of children whose religion is forbidden; the ironic poverty of a lottery winner; an alternate American history in which Columbus turns and sails away—in deceptively simple language, we hear the protest of survivors.

“Indian” is not a derogatory word. It’s what we call ourselves.
(from “The Incomplete & Unauthorized Definition of American Indian Literature”)

“Smelcer’s poems are for the taking, and he doesn’t want them back. They’re ours to keep with their satire, outrageously dark humor, and healing doses of pain.”
—Dale E. Seeds, Midwest Book Review Bookwatch

“Sorrow, terror, heartbreak, bitterness, anger, dreams and failed dreams, sarcasm and irony braid with a rare dash of humor. This a beautiful, unique book, a lament of beauty and horror, of loss for the wounded indigenous life.”
 —Lyn Lifshin, Ragazine

“Poetry at its most satirical and courageous. A tremendous book that grabs you by the throat and will not let go.”
—Seamus Heaney

“A profound and surprising work. John Smelcer is a verbal street fighter in the back alley of alleged American history.”
—Thom Gunn

“There are few voices in American literature so honest and daring. A remarkable achievement.”
—Mark Strand

“What impresses me most about John Smelcer…is his indomitable spirit.”
—James Welch

“Perhaps the reality can be captured only through poetry wrought by the hand of one of our most brilliant poets.”
—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

“An astute and intelligent exploration of what it means to be Native American in the 21st century.”
—Maria Mazziotti Gillan

“I feel the primal grain and temper of the genuine here.”—William Heyen

“A strong, somber, and beautiful collection.”—Rhina Espaillat

“A lament, a protest, and an inextinguishable song.”—Sherod Santos

“Among the best and most original poets in America.”—Stanley Kunitz

“Nothing short of splendid.”—Robert Nazarene

“Smelcer’s deceptively direct poems have the kind of energy found in the poems of William Carlos Williams and Gary Snyder.”
—Joseph Bruchac

Selected Reviews of Previous Poetry

Without Reservation
“Clear, rueful, courageous, sardonic, hard-lived. Poems with a sweet clarity that leaves us with no excuse. To be taken straight.”
—Gary Snyder

The Binghamton Poems
“Some say poetry is cathartic. Reading these poems teaches us that poetry is necessary.”
—John Updike

"A compelling voice, unforgettable and highly recommended.”
Library Bookwatch

Indian Prophet
“His poetry is genius.”
—Ruth Stone

Indian Giver • John Smelcer

130 pages • ISBN 978-1-935248-80-4 • Trade paperback, $14.00 • e-Book available • April 2016

Published by Leapfrog Press LLC • www.leapfrogpress.com

Distributed to the trade by Consortium Book Sales & Distribution • www.cbsd.com

Indian Giver.

 

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