Kimberly Blaeser,
Trailing You
(Greenfield Review Press, 1995)

Kimberly Blaeser crafts a crazy quilt of memory in her poems, calling upon her Indian heritage to guide her quest. In doing so, she weaves the traditions of her ancestors with the immediacy of her own life, stitching together fragments of dreams and things remembered.

She writes "out of a place, a center, that is greater than what I alone am or could be. My work is filled with the voices of other people. It crosses boundaries of time and space, of ways of knowing, of what it means to be human."

These voices have come together in her book Trailing You. The 32 poems contain scraps of memory, from pow-wows to family legends.

In one poem she writes, "these pieces of time / all multi-colored and mismatched fashion / tell their own stories. ... so I thought I'd just make it our way / lay the memories and stories out / zig-zag through time / and stitch them together the way I see them."

In doing so she makes connections, threading together the shadows of the past that shape the present.

She writes of "trying to find pieces of fabric I could match / with whole things that had been made from the same cloth / And I rather think I'm doing the same thing now."

She stirs her own mixed-blood awareness with the legacy of her family and adding her kinship with the natural world into the mixture, dying the fabric of her life its own kaleidoscope of color. Into that cloth she "sewed bits of our bodies/and bits of our dreams," all the while crafting something that would be immediate and relevant in this world.

The product is something that is "sometimes boldly patched together / with unmatched fabrics and unmatched threads / knowing that sometimes usefulness / counts more than beauty."

An award-winning poet and published scholar, Blaeser received the highest award the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas gives to a first book of poetry. She grew up on White Earth Reservation in Northwest Minnesota and is an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa nation. She brings an important perspective to literature, history and Native American spirituality.

[ by Daina Savage ]

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