Laura Da' is a Seattle-based poet and teacher. She is Eastern Shawnee. Da' has been both a Hugo House Fellow, and a Jack Straw Fellow, and is our Poet in Residence for November — you can find her poems linked from her bio page. The University of Arizona just released her second book of poems, Instruments of the True Measure.
What are you reading now?
Right now I am reading Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead and Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin. My best friend is a librarian who works the international circuit. She sends me books in translation from whatever country she is in and she just left Argentina last year and sent me Fever Dream. This book is tight, visceral, terrifyingly good, and also bluntly terrifying in its examination of environmental poison and alienation. I started Jonny Appleseed last night and it is so good I’m struggling to put it down. Whitehead is Peguis First Nation and Two-Spirit and from the first page, Jonny Appleseed is vibrant and pulsing with indigenous excellence.
What did you read last?
I just finished reading Inside Me an Island by Lehua Taitano. Taitano is a poet and interdisciplinary artist and that background informs their poetry with a ranging sense of the page’s whitespace and text movement; they are native Chamoru from Yigo, Guam, and this book examines diaspora with such skill and empathy. I was particularly moved by Taitano’s delicate use of correspondence in this collection. I’ve been re-reading Combing Snakes from His Hair by James Thomas Stevens. Stevens is one of my favorite poets and his long poem, Tokinish was one of the first things I read as a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts that made me want to write.
What are you reading next?
I’m about to read Dissolve by Sherwin Bitsui, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes, and Vulgar Tongues: An Alternative History of English Slang by Max Decharne. I’m a fool for any kind of popular non-fiction that breaks down language. I can’t wait to read Dissolve which is Bitsui’s third book and I expect that, like all of his work, it will be a new, unclassifiable, thrilling movement in poetry.