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Cheryl Savageau

Mother/Land, Cheryl Savageau


Publication Date: 15-Sep-06 | ISBN: 1844712699 | Trim Size: 216 x 140 mm | Extent: 156pp | Format: Paperback

UK & International Distribution: Grantham Book Services | Publishing Status: Active Shop online at HiveFind your local bookshop




In Cheryl Savageau’s new book of poetry, Mother/Land, she radically re-maps New England as Native American space. Savageau retells and re-imagines creation stories, revealing a landscape of trees, ponds, rivers and mountains rich in meaning for Abenaki people, and weaves traditional, personal and family stories, with stories of colonization and resistance. Savageau’s “unhistory” tells the stories of her people without privileging the moment of contact with Europe as the defining moment for viewing the culture.

Mother/Land is beaded with gems from her mother’s jewel box—poems that tell stories of her mother’s life, and the complexities of survival and love in a family of mixed heritage.

Savageau’s work signals the reemergence of a people who have been described as “hiding in plain sight.” In contrast to stereotypical associations of Native Americans with “Mother Earth,” this poetry highlights the bittersweet complexities of the relationship between a woman and her homeland, whose bodies seem to be constantly under siege.


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MOTHER/LAND; First Diamond; Amber Necklace; Turtle; The Moon’s Other Face; First Woman; Opals; Game Bag; Ant Tree; Emerald; Hair; The Willow at Flint Pond; At Sugarloaf; Fertility Figure; Twentieth Anniversary Diamond; Algonkian Paradise; Race Point, Provincetown; Grand Banks; Pies; Bread; Where I Want Them; Swift River; Red; GHOSTS AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD; Garnet; Hummingbird Moth; Cod; Everywhere; Before Moving on to Plymouth from Cape Cod – 1620; Grandmother Woodchuck Talks to the Women of Salem; Englishmen’s Footprints; Newfoundland Walking With Joseph Brant; Daughter’s of the King; Mendel’s Milkmen; Pink Sapphire; The Kneeling Girl; Mexican Amethyst; My Mother’s Pearl Cuffs; Nesting; No Pity; Beauty Tip; Surrogate Mother; For Lenny, For Lisa; The Liar; Aftermath; Rose Quartz Necklace; Tradition; Ring of Protection; Poison in the Pond; Smallpox; Indian Blood; Graduate School First Semester; Chandelier; Crayons; Pink Ice with Marcasite; Pemigewasset; VISITING THE LAND OF THE DEAD; North Country: Visiting the Land of the Dead; Entangled; Morning: UMass Medical Center; Hurricane – North Truro ; Side Pass; Night Sky; Rosary; Grandmother Woodchuck As St. Ann; Jewel Box; DressingUp; Piano Dream; Purple Ice; Figure Eight; Like A Good Death; INTO GREEN; Peridot; Blue House; For the Boy Standing Under the Drainpipe; Waiting for Feathers; Convent School; Underage; Onyx Necklace With Pearls; You Bring Out the Butch In Me; Marinade; Deep Winter; Wedding in A Burning Building; Into Green; Summer Language Lesson; How to Get There; Gamebag Dream; Aquamarine; Heart; Grandmother Knits


Mother/Land is restoring the world through the retelling of patterns passed woman to woman like songs to lips. In this familial place, where one haggles over Memere’s house dress, combs her Mama’s hair as if brushing a bird’s wing, employs mother-of-pearl to fill the black hole of her absence leaving buxom hills bare of trees. From this childhood where one might wear a dress of fall grass, cut ankles on witchgrass, and peer into a refrigerator to delineate a hummingbird from a moth; in the land of mothers, grandmothers, and their later lineal offspring, we come to terms with crossroads and swallows, rivers and oceans, and they lead us back home from which we began—the Motherland.” —Allison Hedge Coke


“Cheryl Savageau stares into stones of amber, opal, emerald, garnet, sapphire, amethyst, pearl, quartz, peridot, and onyx,recording every change of light and color they throw on old and new loves. She examines recurring characters and places from as many angled refractions as possible until one of the richest, fullest New England spiritual topographies ever written emerges. Readers who know Savageau’s earlier chronicling of those who sacralize and profane her homescape will be astonished at this poetic culmination of fully-drawn portraits. I fell, hard, for the boy under the drain pipe, the whale’s word for world, the slapping tails of children, the hummingbird in the refrigerator, the cathechist with knife in her teeth, the wife spraying breast milk at the breakfast table, the woodchuck too busy for crucifixions, the piano baptized in molasses, the parakeet’s family jewels, the leathered and lathered Doc Martened butch leading her woman around the dance floor, the lightning that converses with fireflies, and everyone, everything that busts out of the gamebag and into Cheryl Savageau’s poetry. This may be one of the best literary depictions of New England to date, certainly the finest one to challenge whatever is new and English about the place.” —Craig S. Womack



Cheryl SavageauAbenaki poet, Cheryl Savageau has been awarded Fellowships in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and three residencies at the MacDowell Colony. Her second book of poetry, Dirt Road Home, was a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize. She was awarded Mentor of the Year by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, as well as Writer of the Year for her children’s book, Muskrat Will Be Swimming. Savageau also works as a textile artist. Her quilts have recently been exhibited at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

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