Grantee: Michael Wasson
Native Citizenship: Nez Perce (Nimíipuu)
Location: Lenore, Idaho
Award: 2018 National Artist Fellowship
Web Site: wintertangerine.com/lom-wasson-statement
Writer Michael Wasson [Nez Perce (Nimíipuu)], of Northern Idaho, sees poetry as his calling to create space for indigenous artists – not merely in the Western canon, but as a counterweight to its violence and legacy.
Wasson writes, “There are questions in my work, more often than answers. Questions such as: What nations this body? How does an indigenous person survive? What American narrative intuits a self when its histories and mythologies are braided and consequently brutalized under the legacy of colonialism? Where is it that one’s skin can be brought back from extinction?” As we can see in The Exile or hear in Prenatal, he weaves fluently between English and his native tongue, creating images and stories which unearth indigenous imagery within the framework of contemporary literature and poetics.
Noting that the American Indian population is counted at 1.3% of the U.S. consensus, Wasson hopes that his work will not only resonate with indigenous communities, but can stimulate consciousness and discussion within the larger literary community, where Native writers remain fractionally represented.
Wasson earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from Lewis & Clark College, and his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing with a Poetry Emphasis from Oregon State University.
I give my indigenous tongue room to bloom; I let the speakers search the fields and remember how to pray; I give each body a chance to speak for the ghosts inside the cages of their bones.
~ Michael Wasson