THE DEATH OF SITTINF BEAR : New And Selected PoemsN. Scott Momaday
LIKE NEW, HARDCOVER
A Powerful & Masterful Collection of Poetry That Showcases N. Scott Momaday’s Skill As A Writer And His Deep Connection To Native American Culture & History
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Pulitzer Prize winner and celebrated American master N. Scott Momaday returns with a radiant collection of more than 200 new and selected poems rooted in Native American oral tradition.
“The Death of Sitting Bear” by N. Scott Momaday is a collection of more than 200 new and selected poems rooted in Native American culture and history. The book showcases Momaday’s skill as a writer and his deep connection to Native American culture and history. The poems in the book cover a wide range of topics, including nature, spirituality, identity, and history.
“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.
Momaday has experienced life, which is arguably the first thing someone needs to do in order to produce meaningful literature. The past and the present converge in many of the poems in The Death of Sitting Bear, making this a mixture of celebration of language’s power to hold life, a melancholic chronicle of life, death, and impermanence, and an ode to Sitting Bear, the Kiowa warrior, a man Momaday considers “a formidable man, singular and mysterious, one who exists now in the distance of myth and oral history.”
The first part of the book is a collection of poems about many things brought together by the sporadic appearance of the elements of cohesion mentioned above. This is followed by a section that contains a hundred haikus. While there are no throwaways in this book, it seems Momaday built the collection in a way that it crescendos, and this section elevates the book into another level.
The haiku, with its smallness and strictness, has been a vehicle for poets to study life, beauty, and nature for centuries, and Momaday takes on that history with style and deliver a hundred tiny poems that demand to be savored. My favorite, and one that exemplifies what this book holds, is #18: “in the photograph/a black and blue horse bolting/outburst of silence.”
The last section of the book deserves to be called a grand finale. In it, Momaday celebrates Sitting Bear. The section starts with a short prose biography and then turns to poetry to do the same thing but in a richer, deeper way.
Take together, the sections that make up The Death of Sitting Bear are an outstanding testament to Momaday’s talent; a smart collection of poems that show the importance of recognizing what came before and how we must enjoy and remember because impermanence touches everything. Soulful, heartfelt, beautifully constructed, and technically brilliant, this is a book written by one of our most important and unique voices.
Overall, The Death of Sitting Bear evokes the essence of human experience and speaks to us all. It is a powerful and masterful collection of poetry that showcases N. Scott Momaday’s skill as a writer and his deep connection to Native American culture and history.
About the Author :
N. Scott Momaday is an internationally renowned poet, novelist, artist, teacher, and storyteller whose works celebrate and preserve Native American heritage. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel House Made of Dawn and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Academy of American Poets Prize, the National Medal of Arts, the Ken Burns American Heritage Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation’s Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, and the 2021 Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry. A longtime professor of English and American literature, Momaday earned his PhD from Stanford University and retired as Regents Professor at the University of Arizona. He lives in New Mexico.
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