Outside The Lines A literary column
By the time you all are reading this, we should be out of the woods…into that special season of warm days and cool nights, the swelter behind us.
It seems perfect then to present a woman of the earth, literally, to be our featured poet this fall month: Nora Naranjo-Morse is a Tewa Indian of Santa Clara Pueblo in Northern New Mexico who had devoted her life to clay as did her mother and grandmother before her. Only Nora added poetry to create an integration of earth, water, wind and fire. And, as if that were not enough, she has gone on to great success in mixed media sculpture and videography.
Her honors and awards include: Heard Museum, in Phoenix, Arizona, Minneapolis Institute of Art in Minnesota and National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. Her own sculptures and films are in collections at the Smithsonian Institution, the Heard Museum and the Albuquerque Museum, in New Mexico.
In her preface to Mud Woman, Naranjo-Morse discusses the relationship of the poems to the artwork: “Three-dimensional clay Pearlenes were often inspired by poems written months or even years before. In return, poems began to formulate images, complete with personality, physical detail, and motive. In the Tewa language, there is no word for art, there is, however, the concept of an artful life.”
Coyote’s Attempt At Seduction
boasting flirtatious intentions,
under the silhouette
of a crescent moon.
near the creek,
sprung from Blue Lake waters.
under wooden wrungs,
as women whisper
descending a ladder in graceful forms.
their shawls’ fringe swaying,
the wet of his nose.
Coyote can’t help himself,
blurting romantic suggestions
to each woman as she descends the ladder.
Tonight he goes unnoticed.
There are other things these women must do,
grinding the fall harvest
waiting the men’s return
keeping the fires burning.
Inattention sets his swagger straight,
the cocky smile gone.
just a dream,
and now you know why he howls alone.
From: Mud Woman, Poems from the Clay
I had the good fortune to live in the pueblo regions of Northern New Mexico for fifteen years and the form of this poem is a brilliant replica of not only the people described and their movements but the landscape they live in.
I encourage you all to look at her three dimensional work…attempting to separate her from that body is a foolish undertaking, like trying to separate mountains from sky.
And join us won’t you for our monthly on-line writers group at: email@example.com we’d love to hear your artful life.