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America, I Sing You Back

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke
Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

Poet Allison Adelle Hedge Coke grew up in North Carolina and attended North Carolina State University. Her poem “America, I Sing You Back” was recently featured on UNC-TV (PBS News Hour).

Before America began to sing, I sung her to sleep,
held her cradleboard, wept her into day.
My song gave her creation, prepared her delivery,
held her severed cord beautifully beaded.

To read the full poem, and listen to Allison read her work, click here.

Hedge Coke is a distinguished professor of creative writing for the University of California, Riverside. Her books include The Year of the Rat (chapbook), Dog Road Woman, Off-Season City Pipe, Streaming, Blood Run (poetry/verse-play); and a memoir Rock Ghost, Willow, Deer. Hedge Coke has edited eight additional collections, and directs the Literary Sandhill Crane Retreat & Festival and has been awarded fellowships/residencies with Weymouth Center for the Arts, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, MacDowell Colony, and many others. Her honors include an American Book Award, Library of Congress Witter Bynner Fellowship, a Lifetime Achievement Award, a Mentor of the Year Award, an IPPY Medal, a Pen Southwest Book Award, three distinguished positions, and numerous literary and arts grants.

Hedge Coke has worked as a mentor and teacher with Native Americans—on reservations, in urban areas, in juvenile facilities, mental institutions, and in prisons—and several other at-risk youth communities. She is a poet, writer, performer, editor, and literary activist. She came of age cropping tobacco and working fields, waters, and working in factories.

Hedge Coke says says this particular poem was born not out of anger but concern for what she saw happening in the United States twelve years ago. She said she was especially alarmed by the greediness of politicians to take natural resources from the land.

For the full story, click here.