Saturday, July 30, 2016
Blue Lunar Night/ Blue Rhythmic Eagle- Magnetic Bat Moon of Purpose, Day 5
Leslie Marmon Silko, Laguna Pueblo
Leslie Marmon Silko (born Leslie Marmon; born March 5, 1948) is a Laguna Pueblo writer and one of the key figures in the First Wave of what literary critic Kenneth Lincoln has called the Native American Renaissance.
Silko was a debut recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Grant, now known as the "Genius Grant", in 1981 and the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. She currently resides in Tucson, Arizona.
Leslie Marmon Silko was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico to Leland Howard Marmon, a noted photographer, and Mary Virginia Leslie.
Silko has noted herself as being 1/4 Laguna Pueblo (a Keres speaking tribe), also identifying as Anglo American and Mexican American.
Silko grew up on the edge of pueblo society both literally – her family’s house was at the edge of the Laguna Pueblo reservation – and figuratively, as she was not permitted to participate in various tribal rituals or join any of the pueblo's religious societies.
While her parents worked, Silko and her two sisters were cared for by their grandmother, Lillie Stagner, and great-grandmother, Helen Romero, both story-tellers. Silko learned much of the traditional stories of the Laguna people from her grandmother, whom she called A'mooh, her aunt Susie, and her grandfather Hank during her early years. As a result, Silko has always identified most strongly with her Laguna ancestry, stating in an interview with Alan Velie, "I am of mixed-breed ancestry, but what I know is Laguna".
Silko's education included preschool through the fourth grade at Laguna BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) School and followed by Albuquerque Indian School (a private day school), the latter meant a day's drive by her father of 100 miles to avoid the boarding-school experience. Silko went on to receive a BA from the University of New Mexico in 1969; she briefly attended the University of New Mexico law school before pursuing her literary career full-time.
Silko garnered early literary acclaim for her short story "The Man to Send Rain Clouds," which was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Discovery Grant. The story continues to be included in anthologies.
During the years 1968 to 1974, Silko wrote and published many short stories and poems that were featured in her Laguna Woman.
Her other publications, include: Laguna Woman: Poems (1974), Ceremony (1977), Storyteller (1981), and, with the poet James A. Wright, With the Delicacy and Strength of Lace: Letters Between Leslie Marmon Silko and James Wright (1985). Almanac of the Dead, a novel, appeared in 1991, and a collection of essays, Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit: Essays on Native American Life Today, was published in 1996.
Throughout her career as a writer and teacher, she has remained grounded in the history-filled landscape of the Laguna Pueblo. Her experiences in the culture have fueled an interest to preserve cultural traditions and understand the impact of the past on contemporary life. A well-known novelist and poet, Silko's career has been characterized by making people aware of ingrained racism and white cultural imperialism, and a commitment to support women's issues. Her novels have many characters who attempt what some perceive a simple yet uneasy return to balance Native American traditions survivalism with the violence of modern America. The clash of civilizations is a continuing theme in the modern Southwest and of the difficult search for balance that the region’s inhabitants encounter.
Her literary contributions open up the Anglo-European prevailing definitions of the American literary tradition to accommodate the often underrepresented traditions, priorities, and ideas about identity that in a general way characterize many American Indian cultures and, in a more specific way form the bedrock of Silko's Laguna heritage and experience.
Leslie Marmon Silko's novel Ceremony was first published by Penguin in March 1977 to much critical acclaim.
The novel tells the story of Tayo, a wounded returning World War II veteran of mixed Laguna-white ancestry following a short stint at a Los Angeles VA hospital. He is returning to the poverty-stricken Laguna reservation, continues to suffer from "battle fatigue" (shell-shock), and is haunted by memories of his cousin Rocky who died in the conflict during the Bataan Death March of 1942. His initial escape from pain reveals his alcoholism but his Old Grandma and mixed-blood Navajo medicine-man Betonie help him through native ceremonies to develop a greater understanding of the world and his place as a Laguna man.
Ceremony has been called a Grail fiction, wherein the hero overcomes a series of challenges to reach a specified goal; but this point of view has been criticized as Euro-centric, since it involves a Native American contextualizing backdrop, and not one based on European-American myths. Silko's writing skill in the novel is deeply rooted in the use of story telling that pass on traditions and understanding from the old to the new. Fellow Pueblo poet Paula Gunn Allen criticized the book on this account, saying that Silko was divulging secret tribal knowledge reserved for the tribe, not outsiders.
Ceremony gained immediate and long-term acceptance when returning Vietnam war veterans took to the novel's theme of coping, healing and reconciliation between races and people that share the trauma of military actions. It was largely on the strength of this work that critic Alan Velie named Silko one of his Four Native American Literary Masters, along with N. Scott Momaday, Gerald Vizenor and James Welch.
Ceremony remains a literary work featured on college and university syllabi, and one of the few individual works by any Native American author to have received book-length critical inquiry.
A longtime commentator on Native American affairs, Silko has published many non-fictional articles on Native American affairs and literature.
Silko's two most famous essays are outspoken attacks on fellow writers. In "An Old-Fashioned Indian Attack in Two Parts", first published in Geary Hobson’s collection The Remembered Earth (1978), Silko accused Gary Snyder of profiting from Native American culture, particularly in his collection Turtle Island, the name and theme of which was taken from Pueblo mythology.
In 1986, Silko published a review entitled "Here’s an Odd Artifact for the Fairy-Tale Shelf", on Anishinaabe writer Louise Erdrich's novel The Beet Queen. Silko claimed Erdrich had abandoned writing about the Native American struggle for sovereignty in exchange for writing "self-referential," postmodern fiction.
In 2012, the textbook, Rethinking Columbus, which includes an essay by her, was banned by the Tucson Unified School District following a statewide ban on Ethnic and Cultural Studies.*
Rain smell comes with the wind
out of the southwest.
Smell of sand dunes
tall grass glistening
in the rain.
Warm raindrops that fall easy
The summer is born.
Smell of her breathing new life
small gray toads on
whispering to dark wide leaves
white moon blossoms dripping
tracks in the
I am full of hunger
deep and longing to touch
wet tall grass, green and strong beneath.
This woman loved a man
and she breathed to him
her damp earth song.
I was haunted by this story
I remember it in cottonwood leaves
their fragrance in
I remember it in the wide blue sky
when the rain smell comes with the wind.*
Leslie Marmon Silko
Kin 223: Blue Lunar Night
I polarize in order to dream
I seal the input of abundance
With the lunar tone of challenge
I am guided by the power of vision.
Disciplined exertion of creative imagination is a powerful tool for overcoming the lower forces and obstacles on the path.*
*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Visshudha Chakra (Alpha Plasma)