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Enunciation as Decolonial Knowledge: White-Hole Apologetics and Black-Mountain Grasses in Layli Long Soldier’s "Whereas" (2017)

Nassim Winnie Balestrini


Pages 361 - 384

DOI https://doi.org/10.33675/AMST/2023/3/7


open-access

This publication is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivatives 4.0.

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With her poetry volume "Whereas", Oglala Lakota poet Layli Long Soldier eloquently responds to the 2009 congressional apology to all American Indians. The poet / persona privileges her own perspective on the past and the present by positioning herself as more than a silent recipient of the congressional document. Emphasizing the interrelatedness of land and other spaces, individual positionalities, personal relations, and the impact of language(s) and acts involving physical movement, Long Soldier puts forth a poetological and political book of poems that can be read as producing decolonial knowledge. This essay elucidates how Long Soldier’s enunciatory strategies coherently extend from meaning-making punctuation marks and white spaces on an individual page to the poetry book’s structural units and its overall conceptualization. In "Whereas" as a whole, Long Soldier harnesses her poetic prowess to expose how the apology’s language perpetuates settler colonialism’s imperialist perspective as well as how her own stance as a bilingual, dual citizen provides necessary new ways of understanding and artistically enunciating history, the current moment, and projections of surviving in the future.

Key Words: decolonial enunciation; bilingual poetry; Oglala Lakota land and language; settler-colonial and congressional rhetoric; congressional apology to American Indians

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