Mark Turcotte

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Turcotte was raised in North Dakota on the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reservation. He later went to school and grew up in Lansing Michigan during his early and late twenties. After he finished school, he traveled the country for about 15 years working and living on the road. He finally settled down in Chicago, Illinois and found a love for writing. He met Laureate Gwendolyn Brooks and his career took off. Turcotte later was awarded with the first Gwendolyn Brooks Open-Mic Poetry Award and also Significant Illinois Poet.


Back when I used to be Indian

I am standing out side the

pool hall with my sister.

She strawberry blonde. Stale sweat

and beer through the

open door. A warrior leans on his stick,

fingers blue with chalk.

Another bends to shoot.

His braids brush the green

felt, swinging to the beat

of the jukebox. We move away.

Hank Williams falls again

in the backseat of a Cadillac.

I look back.

A wind off the distant hills lifts my shirt,

brings the scent

of wounded horses.

What does this poem mean??

Turcotte brings his past into this poem by describing what it is like to live on an Indian Reservation and be an Indian. He talks about his sister almost describing her as pure and untouchable by saying "She strawberry blonde"(line 4). Stereotypes are also mentioned in lines 5, 6, and 17 mentioning beer, braids, and dying horses indicating the war against Indians verbally and physically.
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