Kimberly Blaeser

Kimberly Blaeser, Wisconsin Poet Laureate 2015-2016, is the author of five poetry collections including Copper Yearning, Apprenticed to Justice, and the bilingual Résister en dansant/Ikwe-niimi: Dancing Resistance. An indigenous activist and environmentalist from White Earth Reservation, she also edited Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone: Contemporary Ojibwe Poetry. Her book Copper Yearning won the Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award and was named one of the best native books in 2019 by the Tribal College Journal. Her photographs, picto-poems and ekphrastic pieces have been included in exhibits such as ‘Ancient Light’ and ‘Visualizing Sovereignty’. A professor at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and the MFA faculty for the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, in 2020 Blaeser founded the literary organization In-Na-Po—Indigenous Nations Poets. She lives in rural Wisconsin, and, for portions of each year, in a water-access cabin near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota.

Kimberly Blaeser

Photo: John Fisher


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Ikwe-niimi: Dancing Resistance

365 jingles in rows upon my dress
turned by the hands of one who deserted
escaped a mandated Pipestone education.
266 miles looking backwards for pursuit
hiding from promised punishments by day
migrating like maang relatives by moonlight.

365 ribbons hold the jingles to my dress
colorful strips cut tied and threaded
stitched by the laughing women of my childhood,
women who earned 2 dollars and 25 cents
for piece-stitching geese aprons, pot holders
whose stiff fingers tapped drum beats to sew by.

365 prayers swing and tap one against another
zaangwewe-magooday, ancient medicine dress
silver-coned legacy sounding the cleansing voice of rain.
145th White Earth Nation celebration pow-wow
the weight of anishinaabeg history on my back
a dress made light by resistance—this healing an art.

Kimberly M. Blaeser

From Copper Yearning (Holy Cow!, 2019)