Kristen Debler is Coast Miwok and the proud member of The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. She is a political/social activist, owner of an online ghostwriting company, and a freelance writer. She has over ten years of organizing and writing experience. Her poetry and short stories have been published in various magazines and journals. She publishes under her pen-name Rosemarie Sage and Tribal /Activist Name Yulu Ewis. She graduated college with a Certificate in Pre-Tribal Law, a Bachelor’s of Science in Communications, a Master’s of Science in Legal Studies and is currently obtaining a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She currently lives in Sacramento, California.
GNU Staff: What are your poetic influences?
KD: The two poets that opened up my eyes to the world of poetry were Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes. Throughout my undergraduate years I started to get more involved in Tribal cultural, governmental and political affairs. In my sophomore year I took a Post-Colonial Literature class and I was introduced to a Joy Harjo; a Native American activist, singer, writer, professor and Poet. Her work showed me another way that poetry could be used, as a political voice, and through her work and influence my poetry journey started.
GNU Staff: How are poetry and storytelling valuable in your tribe’s culture?
KD: Storytelling is how we kept our culture and traditions alive. Stories were not only used to teach morals, and good decision making, they were also our way of entertainment. A good storyteller could keep their audience enthralled for hours. Poetry is my version of storytelling. I believe that storytelling has always been my calling and poetry is the way that I express my vision, and share my stories with the world. I used poetry to express my culture and what we are going through today.
GNU Staff: How do you weave the language and religion of your cultural heritage into your work?
KD: Weaving is a metaphorical term. When we think of the term weaving, we often think of a basket. Weaving a basket together takes skill because these baskets hold more than food; they are the fabric that holds all of our traditions together. There is no particular method to follow when I am writing. Weaving the language and spiritual beliefs of my culture within my work is often the same as breathing the morning air. The words I use just belong – it is as if inspiration flows through me and I am just the conduit that relays the message for the world to hear.
GNU Staff: What are your thoughts about poetry as a political act and agent of change?
KD: Words are power! Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Marilyn Chin, Paula Gunn Allen, and Joy Harjo (among others) have used poetry to express the harshness of the world they live in, as well as fuel the change they wanted to see in the world. I feel the same way. Singers use music; artists use murals and paintings; and we writers / poets use words. All of these venues help bring people into our reality and help them feel what we want them to feel.
GNU Staff: Why do you feel performing your work in public and making videos is important?
KD: As a reader, opening a fresh, new book is one of the best feelings I could ever experience. However, with the advancement of technology, the writing world has entered a new realm. People read E-books, listen to books on their phone or in their car, and the written word is starting to become less desired and almost obsolete. This is a scary thought for writers. The only way we can keep our storytelling as desirable as it has been for years, is to become more creative. YouTube, competitions, and performances are all popular right now. It is a way to expose my work to a different type of audience who might not have been interested in it before.
KD: Also, performing and recording my poetry is a way to let others experience my emotions, and what I meant when I wrote a particular piece.
KD: I have embarked on a new journey creating a video book with my thesis and other political poetry. Here is a link to the first of many videos that will make up what will become “Ope” in video form.
GNU Staff: For what issues do you feel your poems raise awareness, and what can people do to help join the cause?
KD: My poetry addresses issues that are prevalent in Native American communities. The questions of native rights, water rights, and disenrollment have been brought up within our communities. Disenrollment is an issue that I have been working with to tackle with other natives. This is an issue that questions our own sovereignty because of issues such as greed and power. Disenrolling members makes us look like clubs and organizations, rather than a group of people connected through blood, culture, traditions, language, and religion. People can join the anti-disenrollment cause by joining Stop Tribal Genocide on Facebook.
GNU Staff: Do the Internet and social media contribute to the well-being of poetry?
KD: I think so. The internet and social media connect artists to people that might not be able to view their work before. Networking has become easier, and you can get more views on YouTube in a day than having people picking up your book. The internet allows people to view you, read you and learn about you at any given moment. This can be scary at times, but it can also be very rewarding and inspiring.
GNU Staff: How important is the accessibility of meaning? Should a reader have to work hard to ‘solve’ the meaning of the poem?
KD: As a writer, I understand the importance of metaphors. However, they can be misleading when you want your audience to know your meaning. Painting a picture is important because we want to create a scene that brings others into our world. I know as a reader that if I have to read things over and over again to get different meanings, I start to get agitated. This is one of the reasons I try to make sure my meanings are readily accessible to those who are reading or listening to my poems.
GNU Staff: What books are you reading right now?
KD: Currently I’m reading An American Genocide by Benjamin Madley, 1491 by Charles C. Mann, and Grand Avenue by Greg Sarris.
GNU Staff: What advice do you have for aspiring poets?
KD: Words are power! Words are powerful! Remember that when you are writing. Writing is a message that you share with the world. It is an art form. It’s not about publishing or even about publicity. Writing is about finding what you are passionate about and let the moves speak through you. When the words flow through you like ink from a pen, you just know you have to write it down. You don’t have a choice. I personally love that feeling.
How can readers reach you and your work?
Readers can reach me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org if they have any questions.
If interested in reading any of the stories I have written, please visit: http://www.newbbay.com/profile-RoseMarie%20Sage-1542.html
Visit my blog site at: https://mytrendingstories.com/profile/kristen-debler/, and if anyone is interested in my company’s ghostwriting services they can view my work on my website (www.songofmyspirit.weebly.com), and my portfolio (Kristendebler.wix.com/portfolio).