Becker opens her collection, “It’s hard to get a halo,” though her poems move in that direction. She writes, “There is no end of pain in the world / but there are healers / called to counteract the negative force…” These lines are lovely, true. The healers seem to be her words. Becker’s work seeks different geographies of lake, land, cottonwoods, and a Q&A with the moon. She looks at the more abstract geographies of love and illness. Becker’s poems struggle for the acceptance of aloneness, and the shunning of anything that hinders transcendence. She finds assurance in the story of the water spider—how something so small could bring the sacred light to the world after others had failed. Her work achieves autonomy through illness. “When one inherits trauma, / it is in the blood. In the bones.”
A Line of Driftwood: The Ada Blackjack Story
It happens sometimes with certain poetry whose verses are not able to be retold with no other words than the words of the poem itself. As the water spider of the Cherokee story, Becker crosses light and darkness, “filled with hope and prayer and humility,” dives deep into memory, and carries a basket back with fire while skating on water. Dreams and the body are at the core of this journey of returning to ourselves—hospitals, doctors, traumas, sorrows, cursed halos, blessed halos, rainbow halos, “the slow and painful process of healing from within.” And even falling these poems find the blue, bended space/time, the leap, circular dance, Etowah, the ceremony of life. Bringing Back the Fire is an intimate chronicle of endurance—good medicine.
Juan G. Sánchez Martínez
Co-editor, Indigenous Message on Water / Mensaje Indígena de Agua
Kim Becker has been one of my favorite poets for years now. Congratulations, you can now enjoy her writing too. Bringing Back the Fire is a muscular collection of autobiographical poems. These poems might be lessons on overcoming fear. These poems might be self-soothing. These poems might be self-understanding. The poet says,“You have always fought against yourself/ seeking balance/ You must disarm yourself” I say, yes, exactly that. Come learn at the feet of these poems.
7th Poet Laureate of San Francisco Emerita
Of mixed descent, including Cherokee, Kimberly L. Becker is author of four other poetry collections: Words Facing East and The Dividings (WordTech Editions), The Bed Book (Spuyten Duyvil), and Flight (MadHat Press). Her poems appear widely in journals and anthologies, including Indigenous Message on Water; Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence; and Tending the Fire: Native Voices and Portraits. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart. She has received grants from Maryland, New Jersey, and North Carolina, and has been awarded residencies at Hambidge, Weymouth, and Wildacres. Kimberly has read at Busboys and Poets, The National Museum of the American Indian (Washington, DC), Split This Rock, and Wordfest. She has served as mentor for PEN America's Prison Writing and AWP's Writer to Writer programs. She currently lives in North Dakota, but calls the mountains of North Carolina home. kimberlylbecker.com