N. Scott Momaday: November Write From Your Life

When we introduce ourselves to someone new, we often say what we do, where we live, or who we’re related to. N. Momaday_N.Scott_Mayborn08rScott Momaday, a Native American writer from Oklahoma, gives us another way to consider our identity. Momaday, who was born in Lawton on the Kiowa Reservation, is a Pulitzer-prize winning writer whose novel House Made of Dawn led to the breakthrough of Native American literature into mainstream literature. His other books include On the Way to Rainy Mountain, Angle of Geese and Other Poems, Gourd Dancer, In the Presence of the Sun, and In the Bear’s House. He was featured in many documentaries, including Ken Burns and Stephen Ives’ The West for his masterful retelling of Kiowa history and legend, served as Poet Laureate of Oklahoma, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President George W. Bush in 2007.

Momaday shows us in his writing new ways to understand who we are and where we live

The Delight Song of Tsoai-Talee

I am a feather on the bright sky

I am the blue horse that runs in the plain

I am the fish that rolls, shining, in the water

I am the shadow that follows a child

I am the evening light, the lustre of meadows

I am an eagle playing with the wind

I am a cluster of bright beads

I am the farthest star

I am the cold of the dawn

I am the roaring of the rain

I am the glitter on the crust of the snow

I am the long track of the moon in a lake

I am a flame of four colors

I am a deer standing away in the dusk

I am a field of sumac and pomme blanche

I am an angle of geese in the winter sky

I am the hunger of a young wolf

I am the whole dream of these things

You see, I am alive, I am alive

I stand in good relation to the Gods

I stand in good relation to the earth

I stand in good relation to everything that is beautiful…

You see, I am alive, I am alive

For this month’s writing exercise, please put aside thoughts of grammar, spelling or making sense momentarily and start writing your own description of who you are, beginning with the words, “I am…” to open each line, and then reaching for the images that convey what you’ve witnessed in your life and in the land and sky around you. Aim for what’s real to you,n149969 whether it be small or large. You may not feel like you’re the feather on the bright sky, but maybe you’re the dust over the just-plowed field, the dragonfly hovering above the butterfy bush, the nicked pick-up truck door, the loud music playing at the gas station, the easy chair in the basement. You may also be the canopy of stars on a winter night or the collective memories of all your grandparents.

Whoever you are, let your words convey the link between you and the land and sky, you and your relations by landing on specific images as you write. This is also a writing exercise you can add to over time, perhaps sprinking in a few new images of who you are each season or each year on your birthday. Writing in this way – adding as you go along – is another way to say to the world, “I am alive. I am alive.”