Traveling with the Underground People by Vivian Faith Prescott
Traveling with the Underground people by Vivian Faith Prescott
Traveling with the Underground People is a hybrid collection of poetry, graphic poems, and prose, chronicling a North American Sámi diaspora. The Sámi are one people in four countries, and are the indigenous peoples of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia’s Kola Peninsula. At least 30,000 Sámi now live in North America. Vivian Faith Prescott’s poems explore indigenous identity, transgenerational trauma, and the complexities of living far from one’s cultural origins. The narrator is often mournful of this loss: “…how many grandmothers and aunties and cousins you can search for, back-and-forth in time, before the shoe-bands of your world weaken.”
Vivian Faith Prescott takes us on a beautiful bridge back and forth between moments of brokenness and moments of power. In her poems we walk toward the terrible place of racism, generational trauma, and identity fractured by colonialism: scull measurements, graves broken into, grandsons on meth. But just when we feel too much despair, she takes us back across to poems of grandmothers and drums, and reindeer eating mushrooms. Reading these brave poems is walking on an intense emotional journey with Prescott, and even after we’ve left her side, the poems linger. “And all I can do is borrow a lamp/for the long journey back home.”
—Emily Wall, Associate Professor of English, University of Alaska
Southeast, author of Liveaboard (Salmon Poetry, 2012)
Vivian Faith Prescott has assembled an insightful, multi layered and sometimes emotional chapbook that chronicles a Sami North American journey. I am struck by the depth of knowledge she writes from, as well as the diversity of presentation. A great read....recommended.
—Nathan Muus, B.A., musician/yoiker, artist, activist, and co-editor
Baiki: The North American/International Sami Journal, and researcher/ editor for The Sami Reindeer People of Alaska.
About the Author
Vivian Faith Prescott is a fifth generation Alaskan, born and raised in a multi-cultural family on the small island of Wrangell in Southeastern Alaska. She lives in Wrangell near the Red Alder Head Village site at her family's fishcamp, Mickey's Fishcamp. She holds an MFA from the University of Alaska and a Ph.D. in Cross Cultural Studies. Her poetry has appeared in The North American Review, Yellow Medicine Review, Prairie Schooner and Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Anthology (University of Georgia Press). Vivian married into a Tlingit family and has four grown children and she was adopted into their clan, the T'akdeintaan, Snail House, and given the Tlingit name Yéilk' Tlaa, Mother-of-Cute-Little-Raven. Vivian is the founding member of Blue Canoe Writers in Sitka and Flying Island Writers and Artists in Wrangell with an emphasis on mentoring Indigenous writers. She's a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and received the Jason Wenger Award for Literary Excellence, in addition to a Rasmuson Fellowship (2015). She's a two-time semi-finalist for the Joy Harjo Poetry Award and a semi-finalist for the Colorado Prize for Poetry. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Slick (White Knuckle Press) and Sludge (Flutter Press), plus a full length collection, The Hide of My Tongue, and one short story collection, The Dead Go to Seattle (Boreal Books/Red Hen Press, 2017).
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