Kimberly Blaeser

Founding Director, Indigenous Nations Poets

Kimberly Blaeser, writer, photographer, and scholar, is a past Wisconsin Poet Laureate. She is the author of five poetry collections, most recently the bi-lingual Résister en dansant/Ikwe-niimi: Dancing Resistance (2020), Copper Yearning (2019), and Apprenticed to Justice. Blaeser edited the anthology Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone: Contemporary Ojibwe Poetry, and her scholarly study, Gerald Vizenor: Writing in the Oral Tradition, was the first native-authored book-length study of an Indigenous author. An Anishinaabe activist and environmentalist, Blaeser is an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation and grew up on the reservation. She is a Professor of English and Indigenous Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and MFA faculty member for the low residency program in Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Blaeser is an editorial board member for the “American Indian Lives” series of the University of Nebraska Press and for the “Native American Series” of Michigan State University Press. In 2021, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas. She lives in the woods and wetlands of Lyons Township, Wisconsin, and for portions of each year, in a water-access cabin near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota.

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Publications

Copper Yearning

Genre: Poetry
Publisher: Holy Cow! Press
Publication Date: 2019

Copper Yearning invests itself in a compassionate dual vision, bearing witness to the lush beauty of our intricately woven environments and to the historical and contemporary perils that threaten them. Kimberly Blaeser’s fourth collection of poetry deftly reflects her Indigenous perspective and a global awareness. Through vividly rendered images, the poems dwell among watery geographies, alive to each natural nuance, alive also to the uncanny. Set in fishing boats, in dreams, in prisons, in memory, or in far-flung countries like Bahrain, the pieces sing of mythic truths and of the poignant everyday injustices. But, whether resisting threats to effigy mounds or inhabiting the otherness of river otter, ultimately they voice a universal longing for a place of balance, a way of being in the world, for the ineffable.

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Résister en dansant / Ikwe-niimi: Dancing Resistance

Genre: Poetry
Publisher: Éditions des Lisières
Publication Date: 2020

Poetry in French and English, Résister en dansant / Ikwe-niimi: Dancing Resistance situates the reader in complex cultural spaces—in watery Anishinaabe homelands, in sites of historical and contemporary political conflict. As translator Béatrice Machet explains: “To write is not only to produce a literary object, for a Native American author it is to affirm survival (. . .) and to continue to resist in lands where the question of colonialism is still topical. History and resistance, tradition and nature, are the two thematic poles that irrigate the poetry of Kimberly Blaeser, a member of the Anishinaabe nation. Lyrical and narrative, her texts, capture the complexity of the legacies of Native America, immersed for more than five hundred years in a civilization that sought to suppress them physically, culturally and spiritually.”

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Apprenticed to Justice

Genre: Poetry
Publisher: Salt Publishing
Publication Date: 2007

Apprenticed to Justice is a collection of vividly rendered lyrical and narrative poems that trace the complex inheritances of Indigenous America, this “strange map drawn of blood and history.” It opens with intriguing glimpses of individuals—a mother “born of dawn / in a reckless moon of miscegenation,” cousins “who rotated authority / on marbles sex and skunk etiquette,” women “planting dreams with dank names like rutabaga and kohlrabi”—and it turns on the notion of legacy. From what dark turmoil of earth do we emerge? How and what do we inherit? To what mesh of tangled origins do we live apprenticed? These are the literal and the metaphorical questions Anishinaabe author Kimberly Blaeser asks in this, her third collection of poetry.

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Absentee Indians and Other Poems

Genre: Poetry
Publisher: Michigan State University Press
Publication Date: 2002

Absentee Indians and Other Poems evokes personal yet universal experiences of the places that Native Americans call home, their family and national histories, and the emotional forces that help forge Native American identities. These are poems of exile, loss, and the celebration of that which remains. Anchored in the physical landscape, Blaeser’s poetry finds the sacred in those ordinary actions that bind a community together. As Blaeser turns to the mysterious passage from sleeping to wakefulness, or from nature to spirit, she reveals not merely the movement from one age or place to another, but the movement from experience to vision.

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Trailing You

Genre: Poetry
Publisher: Greenfield Review
Publication Date: 1994

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Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone: Contemporary Ojibwe Poetry

Genre: Poetry
Publisher: Loonfeather Press
Publication Date: 2006

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Gerald Vizenor: Writing in the Oral Tradition

Genre: Scholarship
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Publication Date: 1996

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