In conjunction with The Poetry Coalition’s March 2019 joint programming exploring the theme “What Is It, Then, Between Us?: Poetry & Democracy,” The Common presents four weekly features this month, each addressing and extending this national—and international—conversation.
Both a painting and a tableau I conceptualized in a feature film led to this poem, to which I connect -ed the cover photography of selected jazz albums and paintings by George Catlin. Colonel Guy
Johnson and Karonghyontye (Captain David Hill) (1776) is the work of Benjamin West, an eigh- teenth-century painter born in the Pennsylvania colony. Better known is his William Penn’s Treaty
with the Indians (1771); but I suspect the directors of the Daniel Day-Lewis Last of the Mohicans used it to create the film’s opening scene, where Magua (played by Wes Studi) steps out of the shadows.
Faces of warrior-counsel pronounce
In hearts shaped to recall only our treacherous deeds.
Ron Welburn is a Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he teaches American Literature, Native American Literature, and American Studies. His ancestors include Gingaskin and Assateague from the Delmarva Peninsula, Cherokee, Lenape, and African American. Professor Welburn received a B.A. in both Psychology and English from Lincoln University, an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. in American Studies from New York University.His research and teaching interests include ethnohistory of eastern Native America, cultural studies, and jazz studies. S. Tremaine Nelson spoke with Ron over the phone about poetry, New York City, and two authors whom they both very much admire, Ralph Ellison and Leslie Marmon Silko. Ron’s poems “Seeing in the Dark” and “When You Know a Hard Sky” appear in Issue 06 of The Common.
On the Emergence of Native American Literature: An Interview with Ron Welburn