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Itch Like Crazy
By Wendy Rose
121 pp. / 6.00 in x 9.00 in / 2002
Paper (978-0-8165-2177-7)
  - Sun Tracks

Related Interest
  - Poetry

Among Native American writers of mixed-blood heritage, few have expressed their concerns with personal identity with as much passion as Wendy Rose. A mainstay among American Indian poets whose work
Lush and evocative imagery

—Indian Country Today

A finely crafted literary work that is also a manifesto addressing contacts and conflicts in the history of Indian-white relations. . . . Recommended.


Her manifesto offers readers valuable lessons in both poetic craft and self-exploration. It is enjoyable as well as masterful in its stance, gaze, and honesty.

—Multicultural Review

While Rose's earlier voice was searching and political, brimming with the anger of the disenfranchised, her new voice is knowing, rich with facts recovered from her research, in places empathetic, and always pointedly personal. . . . In many ways, her story is our story, the story of anyone whose ‘mixed' ancestry includes the powerful and the powerless and leaves us wondering where we stand.


addresses these issues, she is a writer with whom readers of diverse ethnic backgrounds have consistently identified. In her latest work, Rose returns to these major motifs while exploring a new dimension: using poetry as a tool to delve into the buried secrets of family history—and all of American history as well. Confronting questions of personal history that itch like crazy—the irritations that drive human existence—she acknowledges and pays tribute to her Indian and European ancestors without hiding her anger with American society. Rose's poems are strong political and social statements that have a distinctly narrative flavor. Here are Europeans who first set foot on America's shores while Taino Indians greeted them as if they were visiting neighbors; Hopi and Miwok "Clan Mothers, grand-daughters, all those the missionaries erased"; and European forebears who as settlers pushed their way relentlessly west. Through her vivid imagery, she speaks to and for these ancestors with a sense of loss and an itching caused by the biases provoked by ethnic chauvinism. Itch Like Crazy is a finely crafted literary work that is also a manifesto addressing contacts and conflicts in the history of Indian-white relations. By presenting another view of U.S. history and its impact on the Native Americans who are her ancestors, it offers a new appreciation of the issue of "tribal identity" that too often faces Native peoples of the Americas—and is too often misunderstood by Euro-American society.

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