Poet, photographer, and scholar, Kimberly Blaeser, is the current Wisconsin Poet Laureate. Blaeser is a Professor at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee where she teaches Creative Writing, Native American Literature, and American Nature Writing. Her publications include three books of poetry: Trailing You, Absentee Indians and Other Poems, and Apprenticed to Justice. Included in volumes whose titles are as varied as Sing, Women on Hunting and Reinventing the Enemy’s Language, her poetry, essays, and short fiction are widely anthologized and selections of her poetry have been translated into several languages including Spanish, Norwegian, Indonesian, French, and Hungarian. Blaeser has performed her poetry at over 200 different venues around the globe, from Bahrain to Spain, and identifies the two most memorial sites for readings as the Borobudur Temple in Indonesia and a Fire-Ceremony at the Borderlands Museum Grounds in arctic Norway. She been the recipient of awards for both writing and speaking, among these a Wisconsin Arts Board Fellowship in Poetry, the Diane Decorah first book award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas, and four Pushcart Nominations.
Of Anishinaabe ancestry and an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Blaeser grew up on the White Earth Reservation in northwestern Minnesota. Her current creative project features “Picto-Poems” and brings her nature and wildlife photography together with poetry to explore intersecting ideas about Native place, nature, preservation, and spiritual sustenance. She lives in the woods and wetlands of rural Lyons Township Wisconsin and spends part of each year at a water access cabin adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota chasing poems, photos, and river otters—sometimes all at once.
On Climbing Petroglyphs
Newly twelve with size seven feet
dangling beside mine off the rock
ledge, legerdemain of self knowledge.
How do I say anything—magic
words you might need to hear?
With flute-playing, green-painted nails
your child’s fingers reach to span the range
of carmel-colored women in our past.
Innocently you hold those ghost hands:
each story a truce we’ve made with loss.
How can I tell you there were others?
Big-boned women who might try
to push out hips in your runner’s body.
Women who will betray you for men,
a bottle, or because they love you
love you, don’t want to see you disappointed
in life, so will hold you, hold you hostage
with words, words tangled around courage
duty or money. When should I show you
my own flesh cut and scarred on the barbs
of belonging and love’s oldest language?
No, let us dangle here yet, dawdle
for an amber moment while notes shimmer
sweetly captured in turquoise flute songs—
the score of a past we mark together.
No words whispered yet beyond these painted
untainted rock images of ancients: sun, bird, hunter.
Spirit lines that copper us to an infinity.
Endurance. Your dangling. Mine.
Before the floor of our becoming.
Perhaps even poets must learn silence,
that innocence, that space before speaking.
-- Kimberly Blaeser