A long-awaited collection from Chumash and O'odham poet and elder Georgiana Valoyce-Sanchez
“Georgiana Valoyce-Sanchez’s poems hold out their hands and welcome me home. Home to a father’s lined face, hands patting dark soil, salt wind off the ocean, scent of mountains. Home to dogs living under the porch, holy starlight, and fires tended on the far shore of our dreaming, waiting for us to make that long swim to the other side. These are poems in the voice of a contemporary Chumash woman whose songs rise above genocide and reach back in time to the strength of ancestors; her vision urges us toward an inland sea filled with blossoms and seashells. Georgiana Valoyce-Sanchez’s work is a quiet beacon of tenderness and hope for us to follow in difficult times.” —Deborah A. Miranda (Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen and Chumash), author of Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir
“This long-awaited book of poetry by Georgiana Valoyce-Sanchez is a beautiful masterwork on how to take care of the light of knowledge given to her by family, by the lands and the waters. Each poem is as delicate and precise as a carved shell. Each shell-poem reminds us of the original purpose of poetry, to function as blessing songs, as memory holders, or observations for what is humbly important but might go unseen unless given a place to live in a poem. These poems will take you to the ocean’s edge and allow you to listen deeply to the blue deep. They will take you to the desert and sing into you the shimmer of rain feeding the generous expanse of sunlight. With this collection of poetry, you will make it home.” —Joy Harjo (Muscogee Creek Nation), 23rd U.S. Poet Laureate
“I found myself seeking communion with Georgiana Valoyce-Sanchez’s work, not as an objective and separate reader but as a spirit self with a shared reverence, love of family, ancestors, and the land called Turtle Island. In Native Peoples’ experience, the land is always living earth: ‘The earth beneath the White Buffalo / breathes.’ If we seem to huddle, alienated on this present ground, with our lonely pain, in this poet’s work we expand out into space where we join a larger community and are joined in a cosmic story. ‘We on earth / are so often like the driftwood / …praying for Creative Love / to shape us into something beautiful,’ Valoyce-Sanchez says, and we become ‘Seekers / who dare to believe / and follow / their own good destiny / despite all of the odds.’ May we learn from her to own such love and courage.” —Dave Holt (Anishinaabe Ojibwe), author of Voyages to Ancestral Islands
“A LIGHT TO DO SHELLWORK BY casts a luminous and rare spiritual history on the borders of one woman's belonging. Georgiana's poems hold light from the voice of ancestors and reveal her own place in the line of their history. Like her father, an exquisite carver, she uses her power with words to inscribe her own origins from Indigenous ocean people as well as the desert nations who travel west in their song journey for salt. She sings a new passage, a shining connection of present with past and by the light of her words, this writer also delineates another truth of colonial history.” —Linda Hogan (Chickasaw), author of Dark. Sweet.: New & Selected Poems
Poetry. Native American Studies. Women's Studies.
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
Georgiana Valoyce-Sanchez is a descendant of Islander and Coastal Chumash Peoples from her father's lineage, and O'odham (Akimel and Tohono) from her mother's lineage. She is currently an enrolled member of The Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation and chair of the Chumash Women's Elders Council for the Wishtoyo Foundation. She taught many different classes for the American Indian Studies Program at California State University, Long Beach, including two classes she designed: "World Genocides: An American Indian Perspective," with graduate student Anna Nazarian-Peters, and "Conduits of California Indian Cultures: Art, Music, Dance and Storytelling." She retired from CSULB in 2014, after twenty-seven years. She was a board member for many years at the California Indian Storytelling Association, and she continues to be an advocate for California Indian languages and sacred sites. Her poem "I Saw My Father Today" is on display at the Embarcadero Muni/BART station as one of twelve poems cast in bronze and placed prominently in San Francisco.