Kenzie Allen

Kenzie Allen is a Haudenosaunee poet and multimodal artist. She is the recipient of a 92NY Discovery Prize, an inaugural James Welch Prize for Indigenous Poets, the 49th Parallel Award in poetry, broadside prizes from Sundress Publications and Littoral Press, and fellowships from Vermont Studio Center, Aspen Writers’ Foundation, and In-Na-Po (Indigenous Nations Poets). A finalist for the National Poetry Series, her work has appeared in Poetry magazine, Boston Review, Narrative, The Paris Review’s The Daily, Best New Poets, Poets.org, and other venues. Born in West Texas, she now shares time between Toronto, Ontario; Stavanger, Norway; and the Oneida reservation in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She is a direct descendant of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin.

Praise

  • Kenzie Allen’s Cloud Missives renders an unchartable landscape, ‘wide as a child’s face,’ in poems that enact Indigenous autoethnography and a profoundly embodied recovery operation. These are poems of revelation and repair, twenty-first-century poems that extend the work of the lyric into the territory of ‘elegy against elegy,’ love songs written to drive out violence and exoticization masked as love, and poems that wake to the desire to awaken. Along the way, there is exhumation in all its forms, of pop culture signifiers, from Peter Pan’s Tiger Lily to Indiana Jones, and revivified archetypes, from the ghost of the British Empire to the Evil Queen, harpy, fanged siren. Most crucial is the disinterment of personal scars and the violence they represent, and ancestral bones, ‘piled, piled, / piled; piled; PILED; PILED, / nameless, done in, / piled—piled—piled,’ each twisted foot and chipped skull a clue to an origin story and ‘a keyhole to let angels in,’ and the indefatigable voice out. Allen has written a masterwork of self-reclamation and survival through love.

    —Diane Seuss, author of frank: sonnets and Modern Poetry

  • With archeological care, Allen begins a poetic and meticulous examination of the layers of life. Often surprising, these poems ‘know violence / like it made me—rage / like it rocked me to sleep.’ Intensely scrutinized events that involve Native women are separated into strata to reveal a powerful self and a voice that seems to have been waiting beneath the pressure of years to, at long last, speak.

    —Heid E. Erdrich, author of Little Big Bully

  • This incredible debut announces Kenzie Allen as an important voice in Native literature. Through impeccable craft, she explores themes of health and healing, Indigenous genealogy and identity, kinship and love. These poems are a ‘song against the song of our demise.’ May their missives travel far and wide; may their words bloom like sweetgrass.

    —Craig Santos Perez, author of from unincorporated territory [åmot]