Sherman Alexie Poems

Sherman Alexie is a SpokaneCoeur d’Alene-Native American poet and novelist. He is regarded as one of America’s most important contemporary writers. He won the 2007 National Book Award and the American Book Award in 1996. His books include The Long Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and Reservation Blues. 

The Powwow at the End of the World

by Sherman Alexie

‘The Powwow at the End of the World’ by Sherman Alexie is a stunning poem that reveals the apocalyptic price of an indigenous person’s forgiveness.

As far as Sherman Alexie's poems go this one is without a doubt one of the more impactful. Everything from the deceptive simplicity of its repeated line to its utilization of apocalyptic imagery is stunning in of itself. And the enduring relevance of indigenous voices in literature speaks to just how important the poem's message is. Especially in the way it both unearths and connects past injustices to the consequences manifested by them today.

I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall   

after an Indian woman puts her shoulder to the Grand Coulee Dam   

and topples it. I am told by many of you that I must forgive   

and so I shall after the floodwaters burst each successive dam   

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