Philip St.Clair

Introduction By

Sanford E. Marovitz

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St. Clair’s poems in At The Tent of Heaven are twenty-two portraits of Native Americans. The poems are ordered, St. Clair says, “to represent displacement by the whites, the persistence and continuation of Native beliefs, and an ultimate spiritual transcendence.” Reading these poems is like reading history of great importance—the lives of an Ioway Chief, a Chippewa Warrior, the wives of Red Jacket, Red Jacket himself, his daughters. But St. Clair’s goal wasn't to retell Native American history, rather to retell and uncover human truths. The poems present themselves like a wall of photographs, each photo with its own story. St. Clair’s words and images give sight and sound to language, and these poems talk. In 1986, Ahsahta Press published another collection by Philip St. Clair, Little-Dog-of-Iron.