by Wilma Mankiller
Wilma Mankiller was not known as a poet. With a tip from her husband, Charlie Soap, and her friend, Kristina Kiehl, Pulley Press founders learned that Mankiller had been writing poetry throughout her life. After searching through her barn at Mankiller Flats in Adair County Oklahoma, Greg Shaw and Frances McCue located 19 of the 20 poems published here. The 20th came from the collection of Kristina Kiehl. The poems show Mankiller’s engagement with her own artistry and reflection upon her life, particularly her Native heritage and the role of women in the world.
Readers of Mankiller Poems might include other poets, amateur and professional historians, those interested in America’s indigenous heroes, women’s rights activists, political and civic leaders, young adults who are interested in leadership and all those who want to see another side of an inspiring leader. How the Chief of the Cherokee Nation wrote poems as a means of reflection on her life reveals a unique perspective on how art, and these poems in particular, may have enhanced Mankiller’s own leadership. Her empathy is palpable and her quick wit and loving temperament, all wrapped in the artistry of verse, shines here.