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Artist/Naturalist Pages
Joseph Bruchac

co-authored by Joseph's son James, a naturalist who runs Ndakinna Nature Center.

Ndakinna, New and Selected Poems


Seeing the Circle is his perfect title
More than a hint of Trickster

Joseph Bruchac is an incredibly prolific wordsmith, a writer of poems, novels and many non-fiction books for young adults and teachers. He has published well over 100 books. His subjects revolve around Native American traditions and our proper human relationships with all life. He has been a galvanizing force for Native American writers, publishing their early chapbooks and books with the publishing house he co-founded, the Greenfield Review Press. and is one of the founders of the Native Arts Circle. Seeing the Circle is what he helps people do, and that is what Morning Earth is about.

When he is not writing, he is storytelling, being a father, being a poet in residence, or playing music with his family group, The Dawnland Singers.

When the flute is not between his lips,
a smile lives there.
Song, story and drum
A Sampling of Joseph's Many Books


In His Own Words

I've been informed by nature since I was old enough to open my eyes and take in the color of a leaf or the flight of a bird. I was raised by my maternal grandparents in a house my grandmother kept full of books and I remember reading such folks as Edwin Way Teale, Ernest Thompson Seton, John Muir, Burroughs, Fabre and many others before I was ten years old.

My grandfather, who had been the Abenaki Indian hired man of my grandma's family (and that marriage was some scandal!) could barely read and write, but he knew how to read the forest. I followed him into the woods as soon as I was able to walk and learned as much from his silences as I did from his words. He taught me how to be quiet, look, listen, any early ambition was to be a naturalist, sort of like Roger Tory Peterson, or maybe a ranger in a national park and I went to Cornell to major in Wildlife
Manabruflutegement and spent three years in that major before switching to English because of my love for creative writing and the encouragement of several professors. My early poetry in those creative writing classes was all about nature, sometimes from the American Indian perspective.

To this day, my way of looking at life and the writing I do always is influenced in one way or another by my abiding respect for the natural world and my gratitude for all that it has given and continues to give. One of the oldest traditions among native people here in the northeast (especially among my Iroquois friends and teachers) is something called the Thanksgiving address, the formal opening to most gatherings, in which one acknowledges, greets, and thanks all of the aspects of creation, from the Mother Earth and her waters to the winds and the distant stars.

Think of my writing as a small part of that tradition.




Tsaile Dawn

Coming down
the northwestern slope
just after dawn
from Canyon de Chelly
toward Tsaile
the Chuska Range wears a mantle
of gray rain clouds
like an ancient woman
still beautiful in her turkey feather robe.

The road edges are carpeted
yellow with rabbitbush and snakeweed
as many-headed sunflowers
to drink
the silvered morning light.

We are here, we are here,
all the old ones sing
in the dawn that never leaves us.





Let my words
be bright with animals,
images the flash of a gull's wing.
If we pretend
that we are at the center,
that moles and kingfishers,
eels and coyotes
are at the edge of grace,
then we circle, dead moons
about a cold sun.
This morning I ask only
the blessing of the crayfish,
the beatitude of the birds;
to wear the skin of the bear
in my songs;
to work like a man with my hands.





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