New Poets of the American West


by lizard

This expansive anthology of New Poets from the American West comes from Flathead Valley Community College’s Many Voices Press, edited by Lowell Jaeger.

The anthology is broken up state by state, and reflects the phenomenal diversity of the American West. The Montana writers included in this anthology are as follows: Sandra Alcosser, Sunk Pa, Judy Blunt, Heather Cahoon, Ed Chaberek, Victor A. Charlo, Roger Dunsmore, Mark Gibbons, Jennifer Greene, Tami Haaland, Ann White Haggett, Lowell Jaeger, Melissa Kwasny, Ed Lahey, Eve Malo, Robert Pack, Greg Pape, Carolyn Pettit Pinet, Lois Red Elk, Henry Real Bird, June Billings Safford, M.L. Smoker, Cas Still, David E. Thomas, Joe Wilkins, and Paul Zarzyski.

Here is one of the two poems from Roger Dunsmore included in the anthology:

A TRUE WAR STORY

My friend’s uncle
was a Marine in Korea.
His squad came to a cluster of huts,
smoke drifting up from one.
The squad leader ordered him
to go into that hut,
to kill everyone inside.
He stepped cautiously through the doorway
and waited for his eyes to adjust.
In the dim light he saw a terrified Korean woman,
children huddled up against her.
He squeezed the trigger on his M1,
emptied it into the thatched roof,
and stepped back out
through that doorway.
No one spoke.

Back home,
when he told the old people
what he had done,
they gave him a new name:
He-Who-Takes-Pity-On-His-Enemy,
and made him
the giver of names
for new-born children.


  1. I’ve been in a foul mood since that video this week, lizard. This post was a nice respite and I will most certainly be heading out to find this collection. It may help with some badly needed perspective

    It was also good to see Sandra Alcosser and Judy Blunt mentioned. You reminded me that I should read more than what I do.

    • lizard19

      yeah, i’ve seen that video pop up in other virtual locales i frequent, one an international forum. i still can’t believe some commenters on your thread aren’t capable or recognizing vile hatred when they see it.

      that’s why, after much personal back-and-forth, i finally decided to include my terrible poem that hopefully functioned as a mirror for racist thought. i wanted it to be a provocative smack of language that states explicitly what some people think privately or share among their fellow racists.

      anyway, the anthology is great. i forgot to mention it came out just last year, and there are well over a hundred poets included. Many Voices Press is doing good work.

      • I got that video from a young woman who was victimized there.

        There are many reasons it disturbs me, and certainly that connection is a factor. I don’t know what to say to someone that lives in that situation.

        And there are many people in many aspects of life that live with these types of situations. Here in America.

        She is smart and intelligent. She doesn’t want or need me to apologize to her, and an apology from me isn’t a solution or even a mitigation.

        Well beyond that, another factor really eating at me is that seeing this – and it’s not that I didn’t know it was out there – makes me hate. It really makes me hate and I hate them for making me feel this hate and you see where this goes?

        Hate really is consumptive. I don’t know how “those people” live with it.

        • lizard19

          it’s not easy to diffuse visceral reactions to such displays of hate.

          i try and remind myself their hate is rooted in fear, and that fear is exploited by religion, politicians, media, etc.

          i also try to remind myself that all those people spewing their hateful crap were once innocent little babies, and they are the way they are because of a set of life experiences we can’t fully understand.

          often times the more you know about people, the more difficult it is to hate them.

          so if all someone knows about Muslims is from what they see on Fox news, well, we know what kind of caliber of folks that makes, don’t we.

  2. john Haines– great alaska poet and friend to montana’s revered sculptor and artist Bill Ohrmann has passed away….

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/arts/05haines.html




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