Friday, May 30, 2008

Paula Gunn Allen, Poet, 1939-2008: Loss of a Clear Voice for Native Americans and Many More

Last night, poet Paula Gunn Allen died of lung cancer; her background includes many ethnic and geographic identities, but she has been best known as Laguna Pueblo, Sioux, and Lebanese.

Born in 1939 in Cubero, New Mexico, her publications list is astonishing in its length and diversity. Most knew her as poet, novelist, and critic. In 2001 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writer's Circle of the Americas; in 2004 her POCAHONTAS was a Pulitzer Prize finalist; and in 2007 she won a Lannan Foundation Fellowship.

I quote here from what I believe was her first appearance in print, in FOUR INDIAN POETS (1974), from the poem "Deep Deep City Blues: Elegy for the Man Who Owned the Rain":

Cold wind kicks up dust, smells of rain.
Inevitably the mesas (aloof) call to me.
Invariably, I can't go to them-- such
is the nature of our understanding --

(Coyote caverns haunt the mounds and
Thunder-hollows curve around the mind
to bend it to their will.)

It will rain again tonight.
Then the clouds will be able to be still.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We, some of Paula's friends and family, have put up a memorial website at
Details on a memorial service will be posted there when they are available. Please pass the word.