Ray Young Bear. Photo by Sheila Young Bear
Arts & Entertainment

New Yorker features Meskwaki word-songs performed by poet Ray Young Bear

Poet and novelist Ray Young Bear, a citizen of the Meskwaki Tribe, has published two word-songs in The New Yorker.

Young Bear composed the poems, titled John Whirlwind's Doublebeat Songs 1956, in June. He recorded them with a hand drum in Iowa last week for publication in the magazine's September 25 issue.

The songs are performed in the Meskwaki language and an English translation is provided. The New Yorker's website features an audio of the recording.

"Menwi - yakwatoni - beskonewiani," Young Bear sings in the opening line. "Good-smelling are these flowers," the translation reads.

The publication marks Young Bear's second appearance in The New Yorker. His four-part poem Four Hinterland Abstractions was published in August 2015.

Young Bear