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Calling upon the personal memories and ancestral antecedents of her Anishinaabe family heritage, Molly McGlennen writes poems for Fried Fish and Flour Biscuits that render the continuance and celebration of the complex realities of Native American life in the 21st century. The collection of finely rendered lyrical and narrative pieces recounts the story of physical and spiritual nourishment, as the poet begins by telling her readers that her poems, like family recipes, are best served aloud, shared as gifts, and regarded as pieces of gratitude to be given away. Telling us how “memories flesh her fully,” McGlennen paints an intricate but compassionate picture of growing up “away from the lakes that have always fed her family,” and of urban life where she and the neighbor kids shoot hoops in alleyways and “fall asleep in the backs of old cars.” Operating as a sort of give-away, McGlennen’s collection weaves childhood memories, family histories, and present-day memorials as a means to forge paths of continuance of Indigenous culture. Narratives range from the connective trails of blueberry picking and walleye fishing, to the tragic freeways of protesting an execution at San Quentin, to the regenerative passageways of falling in love and giving birth. Finally, through the gesture of feeding “those networks of connection,” each poem invigorates the life-ways inherent in sustaining cultural relationships even when one finds herself a great distance from her home.
‘Molly McGlennen’s poems remind us of the significance of smaller acts as memorials to larger remembrances of the people, places and images that have made us who we are. In these finely crafted, telling poems, McGlennen also reminds us to remember the strength of our relatives and the courage of those who stood strong in the face of suffering and oppression. This is an excellent first collection, full of sympathetic turns, unforgettable faces, hands and moments of imagery, coursing connected lines and empathic associations—all drawing us artfully back to a better sense of who we were and who we have become.’ —Gordon Henry Jr.
‘“You say poetry/ like dream/ is visited/ by people/ and their stories....Today we pray/ for the coming generations while I ready for bed once again/ days as backdrop/....Five hundred years spill outside my window./ Stars snared in my vigil/ I will dance all night--/ our own drum sending a prayer/ ribbons tied round my song.” Yes, poetry is community building. The poet’s voice is simple and clear and concise and vibrantly alive. Do we need anything more than that? That surely is what we need. Believe it. We must. And therefore to act upon our belief. That’s what Indigenous peoples have said time and time again. That’s Molly McGlennen’s voice. That’s the heart, soul, power, compassion, and spirit of her words. Her clear and concise poetry in Fried Fish and Flour Biscuits is food for our struggle! And food for our victory. “I assemble with the hands of a poet/ who does not know the end/ of her poem....If I use food, it’s mostly/ what I can recall: Wild rice and walleye,/ peeled oranges left for me in the morning....” Yes, let’s eat then and live ever and ever within community our poetry is building!’ —Simon J. Ortiz
‘Each poem in this collection offers its own gift: a re-imagining of forgotten figures of Native history, a lush and gentle reverie on the legacy we leave our children, the reclamation of lives daily “parceled” by institutional education. Taken together, McGlennen’s poems—“picture words imagined in blood,” “memories that flesh her fully”—build like those who populate them a vital continuance for a colonized culture. In finely pitched tones, this poet combines songs, family stories, recipes, and regrets—the vegetables, seasonings, and stones of a lyrical rock soup. The images accumulate—“each drawing an act of survival;” the simple wisdoms sustain us—“these directions are small rushes of air.” In “Album,” McGlennen writes, “Tear open these words. This poem is gratitude.” By the end of the collection, the reader wants to inscribe her own gratitude—to the poet.’ —Kimberly Blaeser
‘In poems that glide like water and sing with silt, submerged in a history insistent upon rejuvenation, Fried Fish and Flour Biscuits introduces the reader to an intimate side of Native life in a 21st century America. Nimble in her ability to weave childhood memories with ancestral antecedents, Molly McGlennen is a rare and welcome voice on the poetry landscape.’ —Matthew Shenoda
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