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Primer of the Obsolete

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This remarkable collection of poems explores the conjoined cultures of Indian and European, the revisions the conquered race must face, and the disruption that results from the attempt to combine divergent cultures in a single being. These poems speak from a four-cornered world: Cherokee and white, Christian and conjuring. They attempt to retrieve fragments of language from a nearly erased culture. At times, they speak in the spirit of the remembered language with the new language that is not fully formed in the understanding of the narrator.

The poems have roots in history, religion, and illiteracy. They are inspired by folk artists who use materials and textures at hand—enamel and cornmeal on plywood, house paint on tar and tin, model airplane paint on corrugated scrap metal. The resulting lyrics walk the boundary between worlds, weaving remnants of the old way of viewing the world with pieces of the new world, such as a clapper that turns lights on and off. The experimental text revisits the gap between past and present. The past is just beneath a newly painted surface. The newly painted surface is not quite dry.

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