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Instruments of the True Measure: Poems
by Laura Da'
University of Arizona Press, 2018
Paper: 978-0-8165-3827-0 | eISBN: 978-0-8165-3896-6
Library of Congress Classification PS3604.A16I57 2018
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | TOC
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Instruments of the True Measure charts the coordinates and intersections of land, history, and culture. Lyrical passages map the parallel lives of ancestral figures and connect dispossessions of the past to lived experiences of the present. Shawnee history informs the collection, and Da’s fascination with uncovering and recovering brings the reader deeper into the narrative of Shawnee homeland. Images of forced removal and frontier violence reveal the wrenching loss and reconfiguration of the Shawnee as a people. The body and history become lands that are measured and plotted with precise instruments.

Surveying and geography underpin the collection, but even as Da’ investigates these signifiers of measurement, she pushes the reader to interrogate their function within the stark atrocities of American history. Da’ laments this harsh dichotomy, observing that America’s mathematical point of beginning is located in the heart of her tribe’s homeland: “I do not have the Shawnee words to describe this place; the notation that is available to me is 40°38´32.61´´ N 80°31´9.76´´ W.”

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