Earth Vowels by Duane Niatum
In Earth Vowels we hear Duane Niatum’s powerful autobiographic journey voiced not in a cacophony of consonants, but in the full tones of resonating vowels that round out his life.  This collection of 60 poems (27 of them never published before) sings the songs of his cultures, the importance of tribal stories, history's bent rewriting of them, and his long embrace of lessons learned from them, nature, poetry, and art.  A wise sketchbook of his journey to the poised acceptance of life, he muses, "I am content to live in the Ribcage/of the Almost Dead." He ends his reflection softly with words to his wife's daughter, "We are born with ashes on our tongues and regret nothing that is and nothing that isn’t.” Niatum’s voice echoes long after you read the last page and makes you yearn to stand, breathe deeply, smile, and watch crows' flight cast shadows over yellow fields.
William E. Smith, Professor Emeritus Western Washington University
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