Words Like Thunder (Paperback)
New and Used Anishinaabe Prayers (Made in Michigan Writers)
Wayne State University Press, 9780814347485, 112pp.
Publication Date: April 28, 2020
Words like Thunder: New and Used Anishinaabe Prayers is a collection of poetry by award-winning Ojibwe author Lois Beardslee. Much of the book centers around Native people of the Great Lakes but has a universal relevance to modern indigenous people worldwide. Beardslee tackles contemporary topics like climate change and socioeconomic equality with a grace and readability that empowers readers and celebrates the strengths of today's indigenous people. She transforms the mundane into the sacred. Similar in style to Nikki Giovanni, Beardslee might lure in readers with the promise of traditional cultural material, even stereotypes, before quickly pivoting toward a direction of respect for the contemporaneity and adaptability of indigenous people's tenacious hold on those traditions.
Made up of four sections, the book is like a piece of artwork. Parts of the word-canvas are quiet so the reader can rest and other parts lead the reader quickly from one place to another, while always maintaining eye contact. More than anything, she emphasizes the notion that indigenous peoples are competent and wonderful, worthy of praise, and whose modernity is a function of their survival. Beardslee writes unapologetically with a strong ethnic identity as a woman of color who witnessed and experienced community loss of resources that defined her culture. Her stories can transcend generations, time, and geographical boundaries-varying in voice between first person or that of her elders or children-resulting in a collective appeal.
Beardslee continues to break the mold and push the boundaries of modern Native American poetry and prose. This book will appeal to a general readership, to people who want to learn more about indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes, and to people who care about the environment and socioeconomic equality. Even young readers, especially students of color, will find parts of this book to which they can relate.