Powerful Poetry by New Voices

High school Indigenous youth poets share their striking poetry.

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Poetry, by definition, is the literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm; poems collectively or as a genre of literature. But for these Native American youth, poetry is a safe haven for them to express themselves. Read through their raw, emotional works accompanied by truth and grace.

BHS Rising Voices Poetry Club

Here are four works of Native American high school students and up-and-coming poets of Browning High School Library Rising Voices Poetry Club in Browning, Montana. BHS Rising Voices Poetry Club is a club for students who like to read, write, and perform their own poetry. They work together to help one another through the creative process and end each year with a celebratory performance of their best work.

Poetry by indigenous students of NACA Radical Poetry:

Untitled

I’m hoping you will perish,

Because I know you will grow tired of me.

This comment may astound,

But I hope you’ll find the happiness that you pretended to have found.

Do not fret,

For I want you to go.

I will not be upset,

Because there is no need to cry over someone who will laugh without you.

But know that until you,

I had a fascination with the color blue.

Then you came, staring at me.

With those lovely pools of brown.

In the end,

You were more than I could handle.

Poem by Maddalynn Whitright

I Am From

I am from the cleanse of a whispering creek,

Where his tide shrinks over time.

Silent, he speaks, but carries words forged like silver.

As dawn arrives, I am a man between the land and sky, built, tore down, and reborn.

I am the eyes arisen from the heavens,

And descended towards a path ahead of me.

Felled and blindfolded as darkness routed in my ocean,

Seen by my mother as she glanced in my eyes.

She saw my pain, my anger, my soul dripping from my cheeks.

I am a cycle of life,

A capacity unseen,

A path unknown…

Where light breathes an essence

And a voice hollers in praise.

Poem by Cody LittlePlume

Listen

Shhh

Do you hear that?

The whistling sound of his wiffleball bat?

“BAM”

And the baseball flies so far.

Shhh

Do you feel the soft breeze?

Along with the birds chirping in the trees?

Listen, they are singing.

Shhh

Do you hear her speak?

When her soft voice creaks at the words she can’t pronounce.

Her face gets red, see? Listen. Shhh

Just listen.

Poem by Alexandrea Ground

Sherman Alexie

Your stories touched the deepest depths of my heart

Your words were able to make me shiver and summoned genuine tears at the corners of my eyes

I am a Native Indigenous woman

Trauma runs deep within my history and in my life, in my veins

I supported you because you had the same experience

Because you are a Native Indigenous man

An author, a poet, and voice

A voice for Us

Someone had the power to speak for Us

And yet you have hurt your own people

You have given Us another bad reputation

Your own people

In a world where we aren’t taken seriously

In a world where we are laughed at

Your own people

I felt saddened when I heard the news

That you had these accusations

I was angry

I was full of rage

and I felt sick

I was not saddened by you losing awards and a reputation

I was saddened that so many women had been in silence for so long and that you got away with it for so long \

And you continued with a successful career, without a second thought for so long

Your books are on my shelves still, and some of your poems on my computer

But like so much of my media now, it feels weird to touch it

Poem by Peyote Mesteth Campos

Brains Benedict.

This is your brain.

This is your brain on drugs.

This is your brain on drugs over easy.

This is your brain on drugs sunny side up.

This is your brain on drugs scrambled.

This is your brain on drugs, poached, resting atop an English muffin with Canadian bacon and hollandaise sauce.

Poem by Noah Berthelson

About BHS Library Rising Voices Poetry Club: This is a club for students who like to read, write, and perform their own poetry. We work together to help one another through the creative process and end each year with a celebratory performance of our best work.



Here are two works of Native American high school students and up-and-coming poets of Native American Community Academy (NACA) Radical Poetry. NACA Radical Poetry celebrates a robust ongoing poetry collective that spans across the middle school and high school grade levels. Students share their stories of celebratory cultural and Indigenous identities, languages, and traditions through the lens of poetry and spoken word. NACA poets continue to speak truth to power, challenge the dominant narrative, and celebrate Native identities all the while exploring the craft of poetry and spoken word.

Poem by Emily Jaramillo

dear fellow pissed-off indigenous kids,

if your conservative relatives threaten to punish you for protesting-

FUCKING DO IT ANYWAY.

they are not held responsible to begin the

redirection and healing they are so afraid of.

equality is manifesting into a neoliberal value  

so if you’re here for reparations and decolonization-

please stand up.

dear mr. president,

you’ve had since 1993 to clean up your act regarding

your ever so intelligent thoughts

on indian blood and gaming casinos

do you not think that

‘they don’t look indian to me’

is a mantra that my brothers and sisters

hear every fucking day in seek of acknowledgement

or the simple right of living?

there is no justification for continuous genocide from people whom

then have the audacity to complain about immigrants  

instead of realizing they are immigrants themselves

because in this society a white man can

take your job and call it manifest destiny

And finally,

dear conservative asshole that had the nerve to cross me,

no-

i’m in fact not smudging with sage

to cover up the smell of drugs

it’s called wellness

It’s called self care

It’s called don’t make assumptions

about me based on my culture

try it sometime, because it’s not my fault

the only smidge of ‘culture’ you have left to cling onto

is fox news, your fragile masculinity, and the 2nd amendment

-i dare you to shoot me

Poem by Emily Jaramillo

Poem by Taylor Harlan

Yá’át’ééh, shik’éí dóó shidine’é

Shí éí Taylor yinishyé

Ta’neeszahnii nishłį́

Dzi ł t ł’ahnii bashishchiin

Hashk’ąą hadzohi dashicheii

Kiyaa’áanii dashinalí

Ákót’éego diné asdzáán nishłį́

Tʼiistsʼóóz​í déé’ naashá

Ahéhee’

My name is the distance in between..

The darkness that traps me in my own nightmares…

Taylor…plain and simple?

Or a complicated color wheel of emotion and abyss like depth…

When my looks became my name….Jackie Jr. they said…

You look just like your aunt they joked..

But this line of women..

My moms, my aunts and my grandmothers…

Stronger than the clouds of grey that hold my spirit hostage..

Devine like celestial goddesses…

My signature, and ever sighing sign of social stratification

A Belligerent battle to contain the demonic presence of my inner rationalizations

The riot that is tied to the history of this perplexing embodiment

An enchanting drum beat of anarchy

My name is screaming from my psyche for retribution

never being heard by this goddamn world,

As it yanks my very breath from my lungs

Engulfing my mentality in flames

And entangling my sanity in its rigid grasp

His curled hair and eyes like a dance through time

His presence the comfort and security of home

His voice the rhythmic stroke of an artist

Paints “panda” as an epithet of whimsy..

My name, the sketches of my imagination

The murky whisper of my desperate cries

The radiant glow of the sunset

Leisurely dragging over the mountains

And leaking through the trees like blood

Dancing out of the ripped seam along my skin…

Poem by Taylor Harlan

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Native Max is a brand and publication which features positive talents and stories of indigenous peoples of Indian Country.

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