What Do I Read Next?
Joy Harjo’s 1990 collection In Mad Love and War won both the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award and the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award. Some of these poems first appeared in the Anthology of Contemporary Arizona Indian Literature, and they are some of her most “musical” lyrics, while the subjects are some of her darkest.
American Indian Myths and Legends, edited by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz, first appeared in 1984 and is still one of the most enjoyable, easily read collections of Native American folklore. It is divided into chapters covering topics from the origins of the planet and people, through social structure, love, war, and, finally, death and the afterlife. (The legends have not been edited and some contain sexually explicit material.)
Internationally respected cosmologist John D. Barrow’s recent publication The Book of Nothing: Vacuums, Voids, and the Latest Ideas about the Origins of the Universe (2001) is a must for anyone interested in keeping current with ideas in physics and astronomy. In it, Barrow explores the idea that there is no such thing as “nothing.” A strong science background is helpful in reading this book.
From Sand Creek, published in 2000, is the latest poetry and prose collection by Simon Ortiz, Native American writer and the father of Joy Harjo’s daughter. His subjects include the violent history of Native Americans as well as personal tragedies combined with hope for a better life. Throughout the book, Ortiz pairs poems on one page with historical vignettes, personal notes, and political comments on the facing page, making for a very interesting presentation as well as a good reading.