Native Lit in Review

by  WLT

Check out the following book reviews from our reviews section that feature new anthologies, poetry collections, and works of fiction by Native writers. For more reading ideas, check out our Native Lit Nota Benes below!

The cover to The Turtle’s Beating Heart by Denise Low

The Turtle’s Beating Heart 

Denise Low

“Denise Low’s The Turtle’s Beating Heart invites you to watch as she looks into the complexities and moving patterns of diaspora, social pressure, and cultural shift. The author is fearless.” – Kim Shuck


The cover to The Last Pow-Wow by That Native Thomas and Steven Paul Judd

The Last Pow-Wow 

That Native Thomas & Steven Paul Judd

“Thomas and Judd’s world is full of coyote men, owl witches, Crazy Horse’s dog, and even Native Americans who have never been to a powwow. In chapters that are slyly hilarious, readers watch as all these characters make their way to the powwow in the title.” – Ursula Pike


The cover to Monahsetah, Resistance and Other Markings on Turtle’s Back: Lyric History, Poems and Essays by Maurice Kenny

Monahsetah, Resistance and Other Markings on Turtle’s Back: Lyric History, Poems and Essays 

Maurice Kenny

“Maurice Kenny’s final collection, a lyric jaunt through history and memoir, serves as an important bookend to his creative legacy. Kenny’s significance as a poet, short-fiction writer, editor, and mentor cannot be overstated.” – Lisa Tatonetti


The cover to Chiapas Maya Awakening: Contemporary Poems and Short Stories

Chiapas Maya Awakening: Contemporary Poems and Short Stories 

Sean S. Sell & Nicolás Huet Bautista

“Chiapas Maya Awakening, edited by Sean S. Sell and Nicolás Huet Bautista, with translations from Tsotsil and Tseltal, curate the best of poets like Manuel Bolom Pale and fiction writers like Alberto Gómez Pérez.” – Anthony Seidman


The cover to A Listening Wind: Native Literature from the Southeast

A Listening Wind: Native Literature from the Southeast 

Marcia Haag

“The book does not follow a template; storytellers and essayists were not given a theme or prompt. Each included tribe followed its own criteria, editing and deciding which works would be included.” – Douglas Suano Bootes (Saponi-Catawba)


The cover to A Thousand Horses out to Sea by Erika T. Wurth

A Thousand Horses out to Sea 

Erika T. Wurth

“There is a drum in the back of this poetry—a constant pounding through images of blood, hands, fingers, and skin. The poems detail specific intimacy with masculine violence that is at once unsettling and a perfect allegory for the history of indigenous people in the United States.” – Sarah Warren



Native Lit Nota Benes

Diane Glancy

The Collector of Bodies: Concern for Syria and the Middle East


A volume that can be read as an expansion of The World Is One Place (see below), The Collector of Bodies delves deeper into Glancy’s own experiences in visiting Syria, combining the sense of wonder that often accompanies travelogues but informed by a gifted poet’s troubled vision of the future; a vision that became a reality when the country descended into a chaos of civil war from which it has yet to emerge.


Janet Rogers

Totem Poles and Railroads

ARP Books

This collection of verse from the former poet laureate of Victoria, British Columbia, places the relationship between the personal and the institutional at the center of her creative expression. Focusing her verse through the lens of the indigenous experience, Rogers navigates the treacherous waters between the erudite and the intimate with impressive poise. The result is poetry with an impact that lingers beyond the final line.


Drew Hayden Taylor

Take Us to Your Chief

Douglas & McIntyre

Take Us to Your Chief is a collection of science-fiction short stories with a distinct indigenous twist. With a measured and approachable tone that reveals the author’s love for classic sci-fi writers (Verne, Wells, Asimov), Take Us to Your Chief effortlessly buttresses Taylor’s argument that the philosophies and belief-systems of indigenous peoples can provide rich raw material for speculative fiction.


The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East

Ed. Diane Glancy & Linda Rodriguez

BkMk Press

The poetry in this anthology exhibits the urgency that Voltaire once ascribed to God, in that if it didn’t exist, someone would have to invent it. Given the synchronicities between the displaced peoples of the Middle East and the Americas, it is a testament to Glancy and Rodriguez’s vision that drew these powerful poems (including work by Joy Harjo and Allison Hedge Coke) into a single, timeless collection.


Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac

Beyond Elsewhere

Trans. Hélène Cardona

White Pine Press

Beyond Elsewhere is a breathless testament to the transcendent power of love, ranging as it emerges from the poet’s pen, from the attraction between individuals to the diffuse but unmistakable connection between the soul and the universe from which it emerges and for which it serves as a kind of holy mirror. Cardona’s translation captures Arnou-Laujeac’s fervor in this series of prose poems that have captivated the attention of the French literati.


Alessandro Barbero

The Anonymous Novel

Trans. Allan Cameron

Vagabond Voices

Italian novelist Alessandro Barbero masterfully re-creates the zeitgeist of Gorbachev’s Russia through an array of carefully crafted and dynamic characters. Through the author and translator’s lyrical, detailed prose, we are transported to snowy Moscow in the early 1990s, where we come to appreciate an often-overlooked time in Russian history while learning to love the unexpected interconnectedness of the human condition.