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Living on the
fringe
no house
no work
no dignity.
Left with
odds & bits.

HAIKU POEM
ROSALIENE BACCHUS

Like the coat of many colors, the letters, scraps,

all those odds and bits we live by, we have come

to know. Folks here live by the pretty quilts

they make, more than make actually, more than pretty.

They are histories, their lives and their quilts.

Indian people who have been scattered, sundered

into odds and bits, determined to remake whole cloth.

Nothing quits. It changes many times, sometimes

to something we don't want, but we again gather

the pieces, study them, decide, make decisions again,

yes, and fit them to color, necessity, conditions,

taste and choice, and start again. Our lives are quilts,

letters, odds and bits, scraps, but always the thread

loving through them, compassionate knowledge

that what we make is worth it and will outlast

anything that was before and will be worthy

of any people's art, endeavor, and final triumph.

Here, look at my clothes, quilts, coats of many colors!




Poem from the poetry collection Out There Somewhere by
Simon J. Ortiz, The University of Arizona Press, 2002.
Published on
RPO: Representative Poetry Online, University of
Toronto Libraries.

Making Quiltwork
Simon Joseph Ortiz
ODDS & BITS
Born in 1941 near
Albuquerque in New
Mexico, Simon J. Ortiz
is an Acoma Pueblo
Indian raised speaking
his native language.

After attending Fort
Lewis College and the
University of New
Mexico, he earned a
Master of Fine Arts in
Writing from the
University of Iowa in
1969.

In the 1970s, while
teaching in a number
of colleges, he began
writing and publishing
his poetry. In 1982,
his collection,
From
Sand Creek
, won a
Pushcart Prize,
bringing him to
national attention.

As one of the most
respected and widely
read Native American
poets, his work was
featured in a special
edition of
Studies in
American Indian
Literatures
, Volume
16, Number 4, Winter
2004.

I think that the oral tradition lends itself very well to the
narrative form of story, or the narratives that stories are. And
poetry is certainly included within prayer and song, a sense
of spirituality, a sense of being connected so inexplicably and
forever to that whole general story of life as we live and
know it and practice it. I think poetry is essentially story or
language, language being an energy that forms us and also at
the same time is the essence of how we come into being.
Poetry being a part of language, then, is a part of this story of
how we come into being.
~ SIMON J. ORTIZ during an interview with David Dunaway on 14 July
1988. From
STUDIES IN AMERICAN INDIAN LITERATURES, Volume 16,
Number 4, Winter 2004. [View PDF file at the following link:
https://facultystaff.richmond.edu/~rnelson/asail/SAIL2/164.pdf ]
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Simon J Ortiz - Native American Poet
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AUGUST 2010

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