Today's poetry for today's world

Joseph Bruchac


Born in 1942, Joseph Bruchac is a storyteller and poet whose work often reflects his Abenaki Indian ancestry and his lifelong interest in American Indian history and culture.  He has a B.A. from Cornell University, a Master’s degree in Literature from Syracuse, and a Ph.D. in Comparative literature from the Union Institute of Ohio.  He spent three years as a volunteer teacher in Ghana, West Africa, eight years directing a college program in a maximum security WBAprison and has taught at Skidmore College, SUNY/Albany, Hamilton College, and Columbia University.  Winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, his poems, stories, and essays have appeared in hundreds of publications from American Poetry Review to National Geographic.  Bruchac is the author of over 120 books. 




To buy Joseph Bruchac's books,

click any book cover on this page.



      Photo by Martin Benjamin









The old man

must have stopped our car

two dozen times to climb out

and gather into his hands

the small toads blinded

by our lights and leaping, 

live drops of rain.


The rain was falling,

a mist about his white hair

and I kept saying

you can't save them all

accept it, get back in

we've got places to go.


But, leathery hands full

of wet brown life

knee deep in the summer

roadside grass

he just smiled and said

they have place to go





 from Entering Onondaga, Cold Mountain Press












We need to walk

to know sacred places.


Healthy feet feel the heartbeat

of our Mother Earth,

Sitting Bull said long ago.

Walt Whitman knew that, too.


When we go by wheel

we roll over the land

as if it were nothing

but miles left behind.


When we go by air

we cut off our vision

and even our spirits

may take so long

to catch up to our bodies

that our eyes will be empty

of all but flight.


We need to walk

to remember the songs,

not only our own

but those of the birds,

those kept in the arms

of the hills and the wind.


We need to walk

to know sacred places

those around us

and those within.





from No Borders, Holy Cow Press














Near the mountains

footsteps on the ground

sound hollow


as if to remind us

this earth is a drum.


We must watch our steps closely

to play the right tune.





from Near the Mountains, White Pine Press




Writer’s Tip: If you want to be a poet, you need to read widely and write regularly.  Support other poets by reading their work, buying their books and also buying the literary magazines that are the lifeblood of contemporary poetry, but always struggling to survive.  Expect and accept rejection as part of the deal, but don't give up if you are serious about your work.  Virtually all good writers (and most great ones) have been rejected at one time or another in their careers.  However, before you go into self-publishing, remember that bad writing is even more likely to be rejected.  Which leads to my last piece of advice-- find competent mentors and reliable colleagues who know what good poetry is, share your work with them and use their constructive criticism as a path to growth.




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