The State University of New York Press has published “Angry Rain: A Brief Memoir,” written by the late acclaimed Mohawk poet, Maurice Kenny, a longtime writer-in-residence at SUNY Potsdam who passed away in 2016.
“Angry Rain” was edited by Kenny’s colleague and friend, SUNY Potsdam Professor of English and Communication Dr. Derek Maus, who also wrote an introduction for the book.
“This book represents some of the last words Maurice wrote before moving on from this world. The bittersweet task of editing the manuscript for publication fell to me, but Maurice thankfully made that task rather easy. After nearly two and a half years ‘in the pipeline,’ it is now out there in the world and ready for readers,” Maus said.
Maurice Kenny’s career as a writer, teacher, publisher and storyteller spanned more than six decades, during which he published more than 30 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,” “Tekonwatonti/Molly Brant: Poems of War,” and the award-winning “The Mama Poems,” as well as his work as an editor and publisher. Kenny earned national accolades for his work, and was inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame in 2014.
“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, who offered 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.
More information about Kenny’s memoir can be found at the SUNY Press website, at http://sunypress.edu/p-6604-angry-rain.aspx.
In addition to the memoir, another book honoring Kenny’s life and legacy was also published recently. “Wild Daisies from the Side of the Road: A Collective Tribute to Maurice Kenny,” was published by Many Moons Press earlier this year. The anthology includes art and writing by 23 of Kenny’s former students, colleagues and friends, plus 27 previously unpublished original works by the author.
“Wild Daisies from the Side of the Road” was edited by Maus and Dr. Donald J. McNutt, an associate professor of English and communication at SUNY Potsdam. All proceeds from the volume will go to support a scholarship fund for Mohawk students at SUNY Potsdam. For more information, visit https://wildroadsidedaisies.wordpress.com.
SUNY Potsdam’s Department of English and Communication challenges its students to complete a core of courses that explore the varied ways people speak, write and read. The department offers Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Arts programs in literature, writing, professional writing, creative writing, speech communication and English and communication. For more information, visit www.potsdam.edu/academics/AAS/Engl.
Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit www.potsdam.edu.