Join MG Salazar, 39 West Press and The Outburst KC for the debut of this riveting and important book of poetry. MG will be reading and performing poems from the book, each ticket to the event includes a copy of “Striking the Black Snake: poems from Standing Rock.” Mni Wiconi.
from Jose Faus: “Striking the Black Snake is a liturgy couched in terms of personal narrative with roots in a harrowing youth, a whispered and denied ancestry, and the dogged determination to stand like a pillar of salt in the wake of a social and political system intent on destroying rather than creating.”
Striking the Black Snake is a series of poems written over the winter of 2016/2017 by an individual whose identity was lost to colonialism and regained through the struggles over the Dakota Access Pipeline. MG Salazar was raised Latinx, but discovered through genetic analysis their native American lineage. A lifelong activist for equality and justice, this knowledge (combined with the need for educated and qualified protesters to become Water Protectors) led them to head north and stand up and Standing Rock.
The poems chronicle the struggles and trials of the protesters, look deeply at those behind the crop dusters and riot gear, and speak to the children of the future for whom this water must be preserved. The poems also are an intimate portrayal and investigation into the poet themselves: a life-long sense of alienation, struggles with addiction, acceptance of their identity, and a need to contribute meaningfully to future generations. Inevitably, there are poems about politics, although this is not a political book: the rights of indigenous peoples and the health of our planet are being politicized, and so this must inevitably become a part of the dialogue of those affected.
Poets are translators of the trauma people share, poets take the pain and create transcendence. MG has endured and shared a moment of US history in an intimate and personal way, they tell the story from the ground and sing proudly of the strength and endurance of native peoples. They also sing a dirge of what is happening by oil, the black snake, being valued more than we, the people. This book is the culmination of those songs.
Striking the Black Snake is MG Salazar’s second book of poetry and is published by 39 West Press.