Reveals the development of Maurice Kenny’s growing artistic consciousness, while attesting to both the beauty and brutality of the world in which he lived.
Maurice Kenny's career as a writer, teacher, publisher, and storyteller spanned more than six decades, during which he published over thirty books and became one of the most prominent voices in American poetry. From the early 1970s onward, he was instrumental in the resurgence of Native American literature through both his celebrated volumes of poetry, such as I Am the Sun and the award-winning The Mama Poems, and his work as an editor and publisher.
Angry Rain, his bittersweet memoir, reveals this rich literary life by recounting its tumultuous "first half…plus a bit," a time during which he moved through a series of worlds that all left their marks on him. Kenny begins with his early years spent among his family in the small northern New York city of Watertown and continues through an adolescence marked by both significant awakenings and grievous traumas. Determined, Kenny sets out to seek his fortunes and find his poetic voice, landing in the Jim Crow-era South, in St. Louis, in Indiana, and finally in New York City, where he becomes part of a motley creative group of performers and poets that offers both fascinating inspiration and disheartening rejection. These recollections end with Kenny's maturation into a poet whose reaffirmed indigenous heritage unified an artistic vision that remained in conversation with a wide range of other themes and traditions until his death in 2016.
Maurice Kenny (1929–2016) was a Writer-in-Residence Emeritus at the State University of New York at Potsdam and the author of many books, including Tekonwatonti/Molly Brant: Poems of War. He was inducted into the New York State Writers' Hall of Fame in 2014.
"In the spirit of Neruda's Isla Negra, this intimate narrative of Maurice Kenny's development braids a rich sensory current of courage and pain which would form the mind and heart of an artist. From the Mohawk Reservation to the bayou, from horseback to Broadway, from the apple orchard to New Orleans and Mexico, the young artist searches for Father among the faces and streets, searches for Home among the theaters and books, and ultimately finds his way back along a path of words. This book guides us to the sources of Maurice Kenny's tenderness and rage. — Chad Sweeney, author of Wolf's Milk: The Lost Notebooks of Juan Sweeney