One spring, sandhill cranes flew into sight.Having landed, they became hard to spot,Their bodies and wings dirt brown,The color of dead willow leaves.That fall, the crane wife fed her husbandCranberries. He balked. He made funOf the tiny morsel. That night, while he slept,She dressed his eyes in red berry pulp.Staining him for life.
“Aakuaksrak” from OPEN THE DARK: by Marie Tozier.
Published by Boreal Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press 2020.
Copyright © 2020 by Marie Tozier.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Marie Tozier is an Inupiaq poet whose work has been published in Yellow Medicine Review and Cirque. During her low-residency MFA at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, Tozier focused on identity in poetry. As a staff member at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, she took part in the Robert Wood Johnson Global Solutions Partnership, which allowed Tozier to visit Aotearoa (New Zealand) and learn about Māori education and culture. She also appeared on an episode of the U.S. version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? in October 2000. She was the first Alaskan contestant to make it past the Fastest Finger Question and to play in the hot seat. Tozier lives in Anchorage with her husband, seven children, and three huskies.
"A sure sense of emplacement might be one of the most elusive and valuable qualities a poet can embody. Marie Tozier's first book of poems clearly is emplaced in family, community, geography, history, and the seasonality of animals and plants in Western Alaska. An echo of Lorine Niedecker's limpid trust in the truths of the physical world and the rage and sorrow of Layli Long Soldier's work against the harm of cultural silencing rings through Open the Dark. Trust this direct, clear voice. Open yourself."
—Elizabeth Bradfield, author of Toward Antarctica
"Like most books of good poems [Open the Dark] is also a gallery of images for revisiting time after time."
—49 Writers Blog
"Marie Tozier's fresh voice is a very welcome addition to Alaskan, Indigenous and American literature."
—Anchorage Daily News