Swallowed Light begins at the opened clearing of myth, at the mouth of history. In his breathtaking debut poetry collection, Michael Wasson writes into the gaps left by a legacy of erasure—the wholly American fracture of colonialism—where the indigenous tongue is determined to bloom against its own vanishing. These poems mourn and build with pattern and intricacy, intuition and echo, calling ocean and heartbreak and basalt, monsters and bullets and bones, until they form one vibrant song.
“This collection draws its shape around holes and tunnels, the vulnerability of feeling overcome, the legacy of violence, and the honesty required for truly stating one’s feelings. . . . Shaped out of contemplation, mourning, and a desire for renewal, these poem carefully build as they consider their subjects. One poem instructs, ‘Carve the wind apart/ into one single/ lasting answer,’ which serves as a motif for the poet’s own lyric exploration of light, boyhood, and nimipuutímt language and storytelling. A late poem ends with ascendancy, having ‘let my last/ eye open.’ These deeply felt pages offer a bold tapestry of imagery and thought.”—Publishers Weekly
“Wasson knows that there are holes that cannot be filled by even the most fervent words of any language . . . [He] conveys viscerally and eloquently—and with seemingly infinite compassion—the intimate legacies of this genocidal empire.” —The Adroit Journal
“Michael Wasson’s poetry collection, This American Ghost, is both visceral and lyrical, taking its reader on a passionate, painful journey of decolonization . . . [This work] makes clear that personal tragedies are intricately connected to realms beyond our individual experiences—to our cultures, our nations, our natural world.” —Transmotion
“With this release, Copper Canyon Press has raised further into the light these remarkable poems by Michael Wasson. The earth has never been still. It has reverberated with the losses it has absorbed. Through his poems, Wasson has unearthed the buried bones of generations and brought their lives into the daylight. This is the work of a poet, and the importance of such work can never be underestimated.”—New York Journal of Books