Arts and Entertainment

Local poet to read from new Native American themed book

Island poet David Lloyd Whited will read from his latest book, “Olde Man Coyote Goes to Towne,” this Friday.

From start to finish, this book tells the story of Coyote residing in downtown Tacoma, trying to make a living. Coyote, according to Whited, is a contradictory figure in Native American lore: full of good, full of greed, a trickster, a hero, a thief and an agent of change.

“The coyote is a survivor,” Whited said.

In this book, 10 years in the making and published this month by Nine Muses Books, Whited’s Coyote manifests all those traits as he navigates the urban world.

Whited, part Native American, said he has worked with tribes for 30 years and has listened to countless stories about Coyote. Those stories were the impetus for this book.

Whited, 61, commutes each day to his job on the Puyallup Reservation in downtown Tacoma, where he writes social service and health care grants to help deal with the effect of the urban environment on tribal cultures and values. Several poems speak to that experience, he said, noting that the Puyallup Reservation is one of the most urban reservations, and seven municipalities lie on reservation land, including Tacoma, Federal Way and Puyallup.

At the reading, listeners should expect to experience a lot of contradictions in their emotions, Whited said — sadness, but with sardonic laughter and joking in the midst of it.

Whited was first published in 1969, and is familiar to many Islanders; he has read at Vashon Bookshop before, he said, and he read at the Vashon Poetry Festival last year.

Whited will read at 6 p.m. Friday at the Vashon Bookshop. His reading will be the third in the Poet Laureate Reading Series. Ann Spiers, who organizes the series, said she hopes to offer two or three more readings, most likely in April as part of National Poetry month, and is open to suggestions of whom to include.


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