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Performing Arts and Speaker Series

Gladys Cardiff - The Paths from Every Direction

testTime: October 3, 2006, 7pm

Location: Music Building Concert Hall, Ellensburg, Campus, Central Washington University

TICKETS: General Admission: $7; Students with ID: Free

An enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee and a member of the Native Writer's Circle of the Americas, Gladys Cardiff's poems have appeared in periodicals and anthologies for some twenty years, including essential gatherings of Native American poetry such as Carriers of the Dream Wheel, From the Belly of the Shark, Songs from this Earth on Turtle's Back, That's What She Said, Harpers Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry, and Reinventing the Enemy's Language. She is the author of two books, To Frighten a Storm (Copper Canyon Press) and A Bare Unpainted Table (New Issue Press), which won the Washington Governor's First Book Award in 1976.

Cardiff's first small collection of poems, To Frighten a Storm, drew its strength not only from her understanding of Cherokee culture, but also from the eloquent clarity of her language and her insight into the human heart. It was poetry that was both deeply traditional and uniquely original. The poems in her second work, A Bare Unpainted Table, show Cardiff's voice has grown and matured while losing none of that early energy. They are literate, passionate poems of family and history, journeys of body and spirit. The Virginia Quarterly Review notes, "(Cardiff) is often grasped by something seen---a Victorian postcard picture of a stereotyped Indian woman, luna moths, Giacometti's changing use of space, two flocks of crows, a single crow; but also by situations---the final days of a couple's pet shop, a recording of a fatal airplane crash, an elder's courteous speech about repatriation, and someone else's need. Usually a poem has a comfortable length of line for its purpose, unfolds, and becomes complete (there is also a pantoum). One feels in the presence of eyes that see much, of maturity not easily won."

Cardiff's mother was Irish and Welsh and her father was a member of the Owl clan of the North Carolina Cherokee. She grew up in Seattle, Washington and received her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in creative writing from the University of Washington. She received her doctorate at Western Michigan University and is currently a professor of American Literature at Oakland University (Rochester, Michigan), where she teaches courses in creative writing, contemporary poetry, and Native American literatures. She received her MFA at the University of Washington and her doctorate from Western Michigan University.