Sherman Alexie

Libby Lewis Photography

Sherman Alexie

Past Event: Wednesday, February 4, 2015

At Town Hall Seattle

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Sherman Alexie is a preeminent Native American poet, novelist, performer and filmmaker.

His books of poetry include The Business of Fancy-DancingFirst Indian on the Moon (1993), One Stick Song (2000), Face (2009), and most recently, What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned (2013). He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, and a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship. Alexie grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation, attended Gonzaga University before eventually graduating from Washington State University, and currently resides in Seattle.

Alexie’s reception will have nibble generously provided by Brimmer and Heeltap.

 

The Powwow at the End of the World

I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after an Indian woman puts her shoulder to the Grand Coulee Dam
and topples it. I am told by many of you that I must forgive
and so I shall after the floodwaters burst each successive dam
downriver from the Grand Coulee. I am told by many of you
that I must forgive and so I shall after the floodwaters find
their way to the mouth of the Columbia River as it enters the Pacific
and causes all of it to rise. I am told by many of you that I must forgive
and so I shall after the first drop of floodwater is swallowed by that salmon
waiting in the Pacific. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after that salmon swims upstream, through the mouth of the Columbia
and then past the flooded cities, broken dams and abandoned reactors
of Hanford. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after that salmon swims through the mouth of the Spokane River
as it meets the Columbia, then upstream, until it arrives
in the shallows of a secret bay on the reservation where I wait alone.
I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after
that salmon leaps into the night air above the water, throws
a lightning bolt at the brush near my feet, and starts the fire
which will lead all of the lost Indians home. I am told
by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after we Indians have gathered around the fire with that salmon
who has three stories it must tell before sunrise: one story will teach us
how to pray; another story will make us laugh for hours;
the third story will give us reason to dance. I am told by many
of you that I must forgive and so I shall when I am dancing
with my tribe during the powwow at the end of the world.

—from The Summer of Black Widows. 

Selected Works:

Poetry Collections
What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned (2013)
Face (2009)
One Stick Song (2000)
The Man Who Loves Salmon (1998)
The Summer of Black Widows (1996)
Water Flowing Home (1996)
Seven Mourning Songs for the Cedar Flute I Have Yet to Learn to Play (1994)
First Indian on the Moon (1993)
Old Shirts and New Skins (1993)
The Business of Fancydancing (1992)
I Would Steal Horses (1992)

Short Story Collections
Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories (2012)
War Dances (2010)
Ten Little Indians (2004)
The Toughest Indian in the World (2000)
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993)

Novels
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007)
Flight (2007)
Indian Killer (1996)
Reservation Blues (1995)

Films
49? (2003, writer)
The Business of Fancydancing (2002, writer and director)
Smoke Signals (1998, screenwriter)

Links

Sherman Alexie on The Colbert Report
The New York Times: In His Own Literary World, a Native Son Without Borders
The Atlantic: The Poem That Made Sherman Alexie Want to ‘Drop Everything and Be a Poet’

Event Details

Town Hall Seattle