“The poems in this book reflect my deep respect for and appreciation of words. . . . I believe that poetry is the highest form of verbal expression. Although I have written in other forms, I find that poems are what I want and need most to read and write. They give life to my mind.”
One of the most important and unique voices in American letters, distinguished poet, novelist, artist, teacher, and storyteller N. Scott Momaday was born into the Kiowa tribe and grew up on Indian reservations in the Southwest. The customs and traditions that influenced his upbringing—most notably the Native American oral tradition—are the centerpiece of his work.
This luminous collection demonstrates Momaday’s mastery and love of language and the matters closest to his heart. To Momaday, words are sacred; language is power. Spanning nearly fifty years, the poems gathered here illuminate the human condition, Momaday’s connection to his Kiowa roots, and his spiritual relationship to the American landscape.
The title poem, “The Death of Sitting Bear” is a celebration of heritage and a memorial to the great Kiowa warrior and chief. “I feel his presence close by in my blood and imagination,” Momaday writes, “and I sing him an honor song.” Here, too, are meditations on mortality, love, and loss, as well as reflections on the incomparable and holy landscape of the Southwest.
The Death of Sitting Bear evokes the essence of human experience and speaks to us all.