Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

by David Shook

Dear Editor,

I applaud your publication of translations from indigenous cultures. I recently used an excerpt from Antjie Krog’s much shorter version of the very poem you printed by Diakwain to articulate the Batwa’s relationship with the land from which they have been legally and physically disconnected:

the place does not feel to me
as the place used to feel to me
the place feels strange to me

In our post-colonial world it may still be true that poetry makes nothing happen, but translation is an important source of dialogue with, and exposure to, the cultures whose socioeconomic realities our nation and culture often dictate without our express consent (or dissent, for that matter).

Your recent selection proves that indigenous poets have written, and indeed are writing, some damn good poems, not the token mawkishness and politics we have unfortunately come to expect. Thanks for searching them out.

los angeles, california

Originally Published: September 1, 2009

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This prose originally appeared in the September 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2009
 David  Shook


Poet, translator, and filmmaker David Shook was raised in Mexico City. He earned a BA at the University of Oklahoma and an MSt at Oxford University. In his debut collection, Our Obsidian Tongues (2013), Shook explores the violence and hunger of everyday life, steeping his poems in lush imagery and sensory detail.
His translations include Mario Bellatin's Shiki Nagaoka: A Nose for Fiction (2012), Oswald de Andrade's Cannibal . . .

Continue reading this biography

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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