March 06, 2024

Thunder Song

By Sasha LaPointe
Thunder Song is an essay collection full of sensitive meditations and powerful observations from Coast Salish author Sasha LaPointe.
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Sasha LaPointe’s 2022 memoir, Red Paint, offered readers a profoundly moving glimpse into trauma and healing through the Indigenous perspective of a Coast Salish punk. Now, in her powerful new collection of personal essays, Thunder Song, LaPointe expands her poetic lens to take in the collective healing needed in a world shaped by colonization, structural racism and a global pandemic. These vibrant essays are grounded in the personal but committed to the political, moving from grief to righteous anger and activism.

The essays in Thunder Song are shaped by the city of Seattle, built on top of the tidal lands that are the ancestral home of the Coast Salish people, and LaPointe’s beloved great-grandmother, a Coast Salish elder committed to preserving Indigenous languages. The central themes are entwined in the titular essay, in which Grandma Vi convinces a composer to write a symphony shaped by the orations of Chief Seattle, who witnessed the sale of Native lands to white settlers.

Like her grandmother, LaPointe believes in the healing power of music for a world in crisis, as seen in her work as a vocalist and lyricist in Seattle-area punk bands. In essays like “Reservation Riot Grrrl,” LaPointe offers a loving but necessary critique of the whiteness of the Seattle music scene. Her attentiveness to the erasure of Indigenous identity and landscape in the region acts as a corrective to colonialist histories of the Pacific Northwest; the essay “Tulips” is a particularly stunning revisionary reading of the flower as settler colonist.

“Swan Creek” and “Basket Woman” suggest that new growth may still emerge from the ruins of loss and violence. In the former, LaPointe’s sensitive meditation on miscarriage twines individual grief with creative expression, while her focus on the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women in the latter expresses a communal need for all Native women to believe themselves worthy of safety.

Thunder Song proves LaPointe is a dynamic emergent voice in Native arts and letters, arguing that collective art and activism, powered by love, among Indigenous peoples around the globe is the medicine this planet needs.

Read our interview with Sasha LaPointe on Thunder Song.

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Thunder Song

Thunder Song

By Sasha LaPointe
ISBN 9781640096356

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