Margo Tamez: Father / Genocide

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Margo Tamez discusses her new book.


"Tamez's poetry disturbs the mind with its bravery of language, musical indictments of culture, and profound good heart. She is one of our great lyric poets. This book is simply wonderful --Norman Dubie, author of The Quotations of Bone

On the night before he "walked on" in 1996, Margo Tamez's father recorded two questions with a handheld cassette recorder: "Where did the good men go? Where did they go?"

 Decades later, Tamez, an enrolled citizen of the Lipan Apache band of Texas, reconstructs her father's struggle to "be a man" under American domination while tracing the settler erasure, denial, and genocide that preceded his generation. Tamez reclaims stolen territory in the felt and known history of colonial Texas, looking unflinchingly at Nd Dene Lipan Apache place, memory, and poetics of resistance. She refuses the qualifier "Native" in order to insist that all Americans come to terms with the roots of their identity: violence, fractured kinship, bitter lands, distorted memory, and haunted consciousness.

 "I was raised up in American violence," Tamez writes, "and I have to explore all of its possibilities and lessons through art." She invites readers to experience those possibilities, "timebending" with a form that she calls "Indigenous fusionism"--pastpresent, bodyknowing, intertext, bent tradition, landguage, familial blood-knowing. Father / Genocide reveals why impunity on the Texas border is the key to understanding American identity violence, with a lightning poetry that strikes the nested seeds and unburies the truth of "these bitter lands."

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Margo Tamez (she/her/they) is a poet, historian, activist, and documenter of human rights violations across the Lipan tribal homelands in southern Texas and lower Rio Grande River. An Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies and the University of British Columbia, her scholarship charts the mass dispossession, wall construction, and current Ndé Dene displacement to Syilx territory in British Columbia. Her writing has appeared in the American Poetry Review, Cimarron Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, and Missouri Review. Her previous collections include Naked Wanting (2003) and Raven Eye (2007), which won the Willa Award in poetry. She lives in the unceded territory of the Syilx Peoples, Okanagan Nation, BC, Canada.