English Language and Literature ETDs


Winter Bird


Tanaya Winder

Publication Date



Winter Bird is a collection of fifty-one poems that delve into themes of loss, longing, and trauma present in Native American communities. Issues including suicide, alcoholism, and rape cover the historical landscape of these poems which use imagery of birds and motifs of winter, cold, and music to render the topics. Contemporary issues are also brought under the lens of these poems which add personal implications by using love poems written in first-person. Winter Bird follows a three-section format using three poems 'The Surrender to Memory,' 'What John Wayne Couldn't Have Known,' and 'The Significance of a Hanging' as titles for each section. Writing reflects reality, where through the careful choice, picking, and precision of words, we mimic control over form, trying to re-create experience, and, as with any form, something is inherently sacrificed in v that re-creation. As these poems deal with death and impermanence by incorporating art, music, and motifs of birds amongst other techniques, Winter Bird and this three-section format allows the reader to interrogate whom death/loss/trauma targets, question who is tempted by it, and hopefully by the end of it, come out with an understanding of flight\'s urgency. The first section 'The Surrender to Memory' takes the reader on a journey to the past to question what childhood experiences shape the life of an adult; the second section 'What John Wayne Couldn't Have Known' delves into historical trauma to get at Herman's claim, 'understanding of psychological trauma begins with rediscovering history" (1); the third section 'The Significance of a Hanging' culminates with the trauma and reckoning of loss. Each section uses music and art as tropes along with birds and winter as motifs to provide different vantage points into the traumas such that the reader can get closer to the re-creation of experience. Through the combination of image and text, the poems push the emotional tenor of the poems into dramatic space.

Degree Name

MFA Creative Writing

Level of Degree


Department Name


First Advisor

Thiel, Diane

First Committee Member (Chair)

Martin, Greg

Second Committee Member

Harjo, Joy

Third Committee Member

Kocher, Ruth Ellen

Fourth Committee Member

Thiel, Diane




Indians of North America -- Poems

Document Type


Available for download on Thursday, May 14, 2099