NPM 3: Maine & Beyond

YARN’s National Poetry Month project “Crossing Country Line by Line” continues with this poetry chain started by award-winning poet Gibson Fay-LeBlanc in Maine.

Map of Maine - Image courtesy of Geographicus Rare Antique Maps (Wikimedia Commons)



Gibson Fay-LeBlanc (Maine)

Going Home So My Dog Can Die

The great lake spoke a name
I thought was mine
and inside certain homes
on certain blocks I was known
for being some of who
I was and am.
The concrete of Chicago
has not yet given way
to water, which I know
from the snow globes
full of these scenes
inside my bones.
But I need to go home
so my old mutt can lay
his black head down inside
a house I never knew
I’d know inside the snow
falling on Maine, my home
away from home
falling inside my bones.

Anna Ross (Massachusetts)

Evening Song

Just as venus sharpening
its red eye to a crescent proved
once more to Galileo
that we and Rome
aren’t central to all there is
to know and be known
by, so you’ll be my reflection—
your skull’s soft curve
once fitted to my palm
now grown to turn
and face me. This
is certain, that there is no
certainty. The blue globe
of your eye wide now
takes in more tide
than ocean’s light lets linger, so
we’ll start here
to clothe ourselves in orbit—
each setting forth
a contract to return.

Joan Naviyuk Kane (Alaska)

In Long Light

The sooty night a backdrop
for a slip of rowan trees,
swans in migration, and
beneath the ice
in its interminable thaw
streams improbable
but assuredly there—
these things contained,
not trapped by the world.
What I mean to say is,
I am not sure I will ever
become the person
I had hoped, or forgive
myself the inaccuracy
of estimation. Blaming
the glare of the sun
is one thing. It’s another
to be held (but not bound)
through the long fermata
of dusk, its promised repetition.

dg nanouk okpik (New Mexico)

In Cholla’s Fire

Cholla people continue
to host me on Pueblo land.
I’d rather be a ptarmigan
roving the steaming tundra,
but I’m not. Santa Fe, NM called
me to come. It really doesn’t
bother me the wolf repopulation
steps with four paws by vote.
We know the land will allow it.
My peace is with a relic
situated amongst purple
sunsets as the sun goes
down, down, my sunrises,
are the Pueblo peoples
songs. Coming into light
just as the meager water
runs by rain, rain.
Only the ancestors can
bring us wind they say:
          Some people have their minds
          with water, some keep the garden
          by hand, more keep the fire going and going.

Photo by Derek Davis (cropped by YARN)

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc‘s first collection of poems, “Death of a Ventriloquist,” was chosen by Lisa Russ Spaar for the Vassar Miller Prize and published in 2012. His poems have appeared in magazines including Guernica, The New Republic, and Tin House. In 2011 he was named one of Maine’s “emerging leaders” by the Portland Press Herald and Maine Today Media for his work directing The Telling Room, where he still occasionally teaches writing. He is the Poetry Editor of Maine Magazine and is at work on a novel.



Anna Ross’s chapbook, “Hawk Weather,” won the 2008 New Women’s Voices Prize from Finishing Line Press and the 2009 Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award from the New England Poetry Club. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as The Paris Review, The New Republic, Southwest Review, AGNI Online, Salamander, and Barrow Street, and has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 2010, she was awarded a poetry grant by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She is Poet in Residence at Stonehill College, and is contributing poetry editor for Guernica: A Magazine of Art & Politics.

Joan Kane is Inupiaq. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and her M.F.A. from Columbia University and is the author of a book of poems, “The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife,” for which she received a 2009 Whiting Writers’ Award, and a play, “The Gilded,” which was commissioned and produced by the Anchorage Museum in 2009. Her recent honors include a National Native Creative Development grant, a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award, and a Fellowship from the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Alaska Arts and Cultures Foundation. Along with her husband and sons, she lives in Anchorage, Alaska.


dg nanouk okpik is an Alaskan Native, Inupiat–Inuit from the arctic slope.  Her family resides in Barrow, Alaska.  Okpik graduated with AFA in 2004 and a BFA in Creative Writing with honors in 2005 at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 2003, she received the Truman Capote Literary Trust Award.  Okpik graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing at Stonecoast College, University of Southern Maine in Portland in January 2010.  “Effigies,” her first chapbook, by Salt Publishing UK, is an anthology from the Pacific Rim was released in April 2009.  Okpik has also been published in University of Arizona, Red Ink, New York University, Washington Square, and “Ahani Indigenous Writers Anthology” by the Oregon Literary Council and Many Mountains Moving  Journal, Poet Lore, American Poet Journal of the  Academy of American, in an emerging poet article by Arthur Sze., and most recently in “Sing and Indigenous,” an anthology edited by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke.  Okpik’s first full-length book will be released in Fall of 2012 by University of Arizona Press. dg nanouk okpik is employed at Santa Fe Indian School in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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