Preface

Welcome to 'Red Willow,' a project featuring poetry (and images) by me, Jessica Metcalfe. I am Turtle Mountain Chippewa and currently based out of North Dakota. My life here, as well as my experiences in college at Dartmouth, grad school in Arizona, and work in Santa Fe and Phoenix, shaped these poems.

I have been writing poetry for years now (my creative writing can be traced back to my youth), but I kept these precious words mostly to myself. I have had some formal training in creative writing, learning under great writers such as Louise and Heid Erdrich and Luci Tapahonso. I have a long list of poets who inspire me, including the aforementioned individuals, but also James Welch, Simon Ortiz and Esther Belin among many others.

The title of this project derives from a poem I wrote about a healing dream. Among other things, red willow has been used by traditional Turtle Mountain artists to create baskets - containers for food and other precious items. I view poetry as a form of healing and understanding, sharing and community. It sheds light on how we experience and understand the world and is an incredibly important medium of creativity. Our voice and words are powerful. Each poem that I publish here will remain available for only 10 weeks, at which point it will be retired from this site to make room for a new one, which will launch every Sunday.