Red Indian Road West Poetry Reading

By Chloe Rodriguez, CHASS Student Writer
February 20, 2018

“I am always amazed at how strong Native people are when there was a mission to exterminate our people”

On the first of February, a poetry reading from two Native American poets was held in INTS 1111, run by Allison Hedge Coke and Susan Straight. This reading not only highlighted the two poets, Linda Noel and Dave Holt, but it also centered around Red Indian Road West, an anthology that both poets are a part of. In a room of around 15 people, Noel and Holt spoke on their perceptions of who they are, culturally while tying their ancestors and family into the narratives. The reading started with Dave who began his performance with a song, following with some poems. He then performed another song in which the audience participated by repeating after him while he drummed and tapped his foot. He continued to repeat “We can restore the Earth, mend the Sacred Hoop”, he went on to read other works from the anthology.

Poet laureate, Linda Noel, performed after. She started by reading her poem, Maybe They Couldn’t Make the Shoe Fit the Foot, a story told from her husband. She continued to perform Anniversary, about a trip to the dentist and a stereotype on Native American teeth. She also performed a poem called Rain Belief, along with others dressed in beautiful language. She introduced one of the last poems she performed by mentioning the Super moon that happened around five in the morning on February 1st. “I Would’ve Been Called the Moon Worshipper” she started, before diving into it.  She then performed poems by other poets from the anthology. To finish, she performed a “Mountain Song”. After their readings, a Q & A was held which gave more background as to what Noel and Holt were trying to portray in their performances. One of the people from the audience had asked about a Seven Fires Prophecy Dave mentioned in one of his poems. Each fire has a different phase: the sixth fire is when the elders lose their confidence in their own knowledge to pass down stories. The seventh fire is when the youth is interested in preserving the knowledge that has been lost. “We’re not preaching, this is our view. We don’t have the answers and if you (the audience) want to, we can speak about it, our view”, said Linda Noel. Dave Holt is a songwriter fable who has won many awards, his latest book, Voyages to Ancestral Islands is one about reuniting with his ancestors which is also a central theme in his poems. Linda Noel was a poet laureate of Ukiah from 2003-2005 who has travelled and read her work throughout the country. 

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