Miranda knew she had words to
put down on paper, tales to tell. It was during the quiet of
her babies' slumber that she discovered that her medium was
poetry, and that the stories she felt compelled to share were
first love was fiction, but I was writing during naptime and
didn't have time to write a whole story," said Miranda,
an assistant professor of English at PLU. "I started focusing
on different chunks, and that's how I became a poet."
those works are included in "Indian Cartography,"
Miranda's collection that won the 1997 North American Native
Authors Poetry Award. As Miranda pursued her writing, she also
drew strength from reaching out to other Native Americans through
what are often common experiences.
life has been an embodiment of separation, division, reconciliation,
and loss. I am Indian: I am mixed blood: I am Indian,"
she writes in her introduction.
whose late mother was white and whose father's family comes
from the Esselen and Chumash, both small California tribes,
has become a powerful voice among Native American and women
part-time at PLU while she was pursuing her doctorate in English
at the University of Washington, she was hired as an assistant
professor in the fall. She specializes in women's literature,
Native American and ethnic literature and creative writing.
She lives in Tacoma and shares parenting of Miranda, 14, and
Danny, 12, with her ex-husband.
been a renaissance of Native American writers since the '70s,
she says, but women have only made their mark in the last several
years. She believes women writers, while focusing on the history
and the past, also have a tendency to be more celebrational,
humanistic and compassionate.
much more hopeful," she said. "It doesn't stop looking
at the history and the injustices, but it's more constructive."
dealt with many of the problems commonly associated with Native
Americans: poverty, family dysfunction, abuse, alcohol, loss
of culture. But she wants to end the "intergenerational
dysfunction," and reaching out with her writing is one
"I've had experiences that I'm capable of writing about
that will empower other women," she said.
words are often painful: poems depicting a 7-year-old girl's
molestation by her mother's boyfriend, a 13-year-old having
her long black hair set on fire by a schoolmate who called her,
"Squaw," a wife and mother still trying to make sense
of it all. But they are also hopeful, as in this excerpt from
"Three Poems for April" :
in the past I came from -
violation, fear, a distrust
of the body - waits
a season I will claim
as my own sweet time."
When one of Miranda's sisters brought her book to work, she
called later to say that readers were overcome with emotion
at reading what they saw as their own stories. "I was
able to see that this does promote healing, "Miranda
said. "And that was a real magical moment for me."