And there is always one more story Analysis

Simon Ortiz

The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“And there is always one more story” begins with an italicized preface that places the poem within a long line of oral narration. Simon J. Ortiz declares “It must be an old story” since it eventually came to him from his mother, who heard a woman “telling/ about her grandson who was telling the story/ which was told to him by somebody else.” The chain of connection is linked by “All/ these voices,” Ortiz says, establishing the generational process of transmission that provides the material for the poem.

Continuing the personal tone that his introduction has initiated, the story begins with the classic opening “One time,” but Ortiz displays the operation of oral transmission by parenthetically inserting his daughter Rainy’s comment, “You’re sposed to say, ‘Onesa ponsa/ time,’ Daddy,” before actually moving into the tale. There is a shift into another realm as the central characters of the poem, “some Quail Women grinding corn” and Tsuushki (“Coyote Lady”) are presented, with a final authorial comment about Tsuushki—“I don’t know why she wasn’t grinding corn too”—before the world that the story creates completely absorbs the poet’s attention.

The details of the narration continue in a mix of description (“It was a hot, hot day, very hot”), dialogue, and action. The nearest water is “at the top of a tall rock pinnacle,” and the women lend Tsuushki feathers so she can fly with them....

(The entire section is 501 words.)

Forms and Devices

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

Ortiz discussed his goals concerning the poems in A Good Journey in a preface to the collection, asserting his intention to show “that the narrative style and technique of the oral tradition could be expressed as written narrative.” Recognizing that “the spoken word is so immediate and intimate,” Ortiz felt that it was important for the reader to be a participant in the process of transmission, and to this end, he inserts in the course of the poem reflective comments by what appear to be different narrators picking up the thread of the story and altering its perspective. This prevents the audience from becoming involved completely with any of the characters, or from identifying with the position of any single narrative consciousness. From the introductory musings of the poet about the fivefold pattern of transmission; to the corrective comment about appropriate form by his daughter, the next generation as participant and listener; to the story unfolding within the control of an omniscient narrator; to the informative but not interruptive comment that “At this point, the voice telling the story/ is that of the boy who said. . . .”; to the unidentified translator who takes the Acoma Pueblo language into English (“which is to say”); the story mingles individual voices with those of the characters to create a verbal collage that, as Ortiz puts it, will “show the energy that language is.”

The intricate narrative structure that...

(The entire section is 515 words.)