Michigan State University Press November 2008, 96 pgs Heid Erdrich’s latest book of poetry “National Monuments” focuses her keen wit and piercing insights to reveal more important monuments than the ones along our interstate highways. Whether speaking of land, ancestral bones, or our own bodies, her poems take us through Native and universal subjects ranging in tones from funny to sad.
Some of the poems are in keeping with Erdrich’s ability to look at serious Native (and other) issues from an original and humorous point of view; such as the poem Guidelines for the Treatment of Sacred Objects: “Guidelines for the treatment of sacred
objects/ that appear or disappear at will/ or that appear larger in rear view mirrors,/ include calling in spiritual leaders such as librarians…”
Many of the poems in this collection begin with a quote from newspaper or other clippings, and cover topics like the Kennewick Man, bones being sold on Ebay, Rumsfeld’s ghost detainees, and cole slaw.
I look forward to reading Erdrich’s poetry because her work makes me laugh, gives me a new way to view things, or hands me lines that make me want to splat them down on canvas and swirl them into masterpieces of color and form. Like “Cat-eye marbles ncrusting the sandbox like jewels.” And this most recent collection of poems doesn’t let me down. – Review by Catherine Whipple