Ethel Mortenson Davis Book Named Among Outstanding Poetry Collections for 2018

The Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) gives out yearly awards for outstanding books published each year. This year Ethel Mortenson Davis’s book, Under the Tail of the Milky Way Galaxy has just been recognized as one of seven outstanding books of poetry by Wisconsin poets.

The announcement by the WLA is below:

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What Kind of People are We?

By Ethel Mortenson Davis

Many people are hired
to view disturbing pictures
on Facebook in order
to take them off.

The video is so disturbing
that the people viewing these
cannot continue in their jobs
because they take home
these images in their heads,
and ghosts haunt them
throughout the night.

These are pictures
of rapes of men, women, and children,
and the killings and torture
of women and children and men
along with animals.

People viewing the images
have to leave their jobs with PTSD.

What kind of people are we?
What kind of people do we want to become?

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The Hope of Trees

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Our president shakes
the hand of the Brazilian leader,
congratulating him on
destroying the Amazon Rain Forest —
faster now than we can imagine.

The Hope of Trees

In the heavy rain
this morning
I waited for you,
but you did not come.
No walkers came at all;

so the dog and I
headed into the deep forest
in pouring rain.

As we walked deeper
into the trees
the rain lessened
until it nearly stopped,
except for a few large drops
that pinged down
from the canopy above.

See, you should have come.

You missed an unforgettable silence
and a white mist
that rose from the bottom
of the forest floor.

It looked so eerie!

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In the Land of Flaming Green Lights

To the Sami people, Jon Henrick Fjallgren

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

My ears are pointed
towards your song,
O Northern son.
It is the call
of the wild arctic wolf,
the sound of icy rivers
rushing over rock,
the kiss of hummingbird wings.
It is a siren call
that has captured me
and now brings me home
to the land of flaming green lights.

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Meditation on the Ceremonies of Beginnings

I just signed a contract with Tribal College Press (TCP) for the publication of a book of poetry titled, Meditation on the Ceremonies of Beginnings.  In 1972 I graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and found a teaching position at an alternative school, Menominee County Community School, which was one of the first seven school of the Indian controlled schools movement in this country.  It was through my association with Helen Maynor Scheirbeck, the greatest American Indian leader in Indian education during my lifetime, that I found out about the tribal colleges.

When Dr. Verna Fowler asked me to help her found what became College of the Menominee Nation in 1993, I started writing poems about the tribal college movement and its founding.  I have written a substantial number of poems over the decades, celebrating, mourning, living the tribal college dream of creating a new form of higher education driven by American Indian cultures and languages throughout the United States.

Most of the early poems were written during American Indian Higher Education conferences, or later, World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium conferences, in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, or Australia.  I usually wrote them on scrap paper or napkins and then promptly gave them to whomever I was with at the time.  Luckily for me, Marjane Ambler, then Editor of the Tribal College Journal, prevailed upon person after person to save them and send them to her.  Later on, once a handful of the poems appeared in print, I stated saving them myself.

The poems tell a different kind of history about the tribal college and university and World Indigenous controlled institutions of higher education movements in the United States and worldwide.  I am grateful that Bradley Shreve and Rachael Marchbanks at TCP unexpectedly offered to publish the book.

This has been quite a year!  In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams, my Washington Island historical novel about the black fisherman community that settled on the island before the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act that led to the Civil War, should be coming out in the near future.  Now Meditation on the Ceremonies of Beginnings.  I’m really going to have to do some marketing work.  I hope some of you might consider buying either one or both works.  I’ve certainly worked hard enough on both of them.

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Snowy Egret

a pastel by Ethel Mortenson Davis

IMG_0459

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Review in Wisconsin People and Ideas

My review of Thomas Peacock’s first novel, Beginnings: The Homeward Journey of Donovan Manypenny, is in the latest issue of Wisconsin People & Ideas.  Peacock is one of the most important writers and thinkers about American Indian education in the country, and his wonderful novel, published by Holy Cow! Press (one of my favorite publishers), has “the resonance of truth telling” in its pages.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the deepness of native culture and how that deepness draws people into and back to the place where the universe began.

I am also pleased to be published in Wisconsin People & Ideas, the most important publication containing the best of Wisconsin culture and thought in the state.  The publication of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters explores Wisconsin’s intellectual and natural environment with a substance that helps define the state’s true spirit.

My daughter, Sonja Bingen, tried to get the Academy to name me a Fellow, but that didn’t happen, so this publication made me especially feel good.  The magazine and the Academy is one of the best things about Wisconsin.

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