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|Living on the
odds & bits.
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
Simon Joseph Ortiz
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
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
bringing him to
As one of the most
respected and widely
read Native American
poets, his work was
featured in a special
edition of Studies in
16, Number 4, Winter
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:
DURATION: 36:14 MINUTES
|PUEBLO OF ACOMA
NEW MEXICO - USA
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