from Amazon: “… an experimental ethnopoetics was an assemblage of traditional works and commentaries thereon focused entirely on one of the world’s still surviving and incredibly diverse deep cultures. The resultant work, shaking the pumpkin: Traditional Poetry of the Indian North Americas, is the Mount Rushmore not only of literary archeology but also for understanding the forms, conditions and promise of being American, which Walt Whitman, among others, holds is being a poet.”
Okay, I skimmed through this, and while I see the way it is organized – it looks like from on styles or overacting themes as opposed to a timeline of dates, or separated by culture. But the language used – Navajo, Eskimo, shows me that a non-Indigenous author complied this, so that outsider gaze issue. Then, the songs and poems are outlined by the translator first, and then the original Indigenous author, so by that small choice, if seems to be giving more credit to to the translator than the original storyteller. Plus the poems only have notes on them in a back glossary, showing when an dhow they were received, but generally, that information should come before a poem, i think, especially in this case -reflecting introductions from an Indigenous perspective.
So not my favourite collection, and I didn’t really pull too much out of it, as I was distracted by all the glaring issues with it that showcases how early this was printed in terms of Indig writing, and also by the idea of, “what is traditional, and who is defining it?”
buy the book: shaking the pumpkin