Mitakuye Oyasin, by jim greenwald

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

A Love for Mother Earth – Poetry that has a message

First off, the title of this book is taken from a Lakota term that when translated means “we are all related” thus the full title of poet’s Jim Greenwald’s book is “Mitakuye Oyasin: We Are All Related.” When reading his poems you can see very clearly that the title fits the poetry within the pages. Jim's Native American Ojibwe heritage comes through in great evidence in all his prose. This is another of his wonderful books of poetry and this may be his absolute best work to date.

The feeling you get from this themed book of poetry is that there is a connection with nature and the natural world around us. His words are like a walk in the woods with someone who truly loves being outdoors and appreciates the trees, the birds and all that surrounds him. This poet is very much at ease in the wilderness of his mind or in his earthly terra firma. So, it becomes a joyful and pleasant journey of prose as we transverse through this world that he observes.

His poetry has a message of respect and love for “Mother Earth” but also for each other. His words and phrasing are like a pathway to the inner heart. He knows how to connect with nature but he also connects with people. These poems are uplifting and hopeful. It was a pleasure to wander through his words and feel what he must have been feeling when he wrote them.

Some of his poetry asks questions as a way of pointing out a problem such as in his poem “Window.”

"He hears no animals, no insects, no birds,

only the noise of horns blaring,
as he breathes the poison engines spew out,
The air burning his lungs.
He sips his water from a bottle
as he stands beside a stream so polluted it stinks.
Grandfather, I do not understand.
Why would one destroy that which gives life?"

The poet and poetry become one and the same as you read his book. Wonderful verse and wise words! Certainly a poetry book of substance and spirit! I recommend it for poetry lovers and those who like Native American philosophy. It is a gentle reading experience and one that will fill you with peace.

Reviewed by: W.H. McDonald Jr. (2006)

Mitakuye Oyasin whispered to me, “Read me and experience me with your voice and ears, the eyes of your soul and heart, and the taste and smell of your memory and sensory.” Then I heard an even deeper voice, “Jim, Native Americans, and all the world are all related by the blood, streams and rivers of America.”

Sounds in the forest muted
dreams faded
darkness vanquished

Knowing how Jim doesn’t speak in the same manner as most, I recognize that the wounded warrior, Jim, has less wounds of the soul than me.

Here I find peace in your love
Here in my heart you will remain for eternity.

In order to begin to contemplate a warrior’s tears, I realized that I must be the maiden of Jim the Warrior: “Words of tenderness and passion flow from his soul which gives them life, to his lips, which give them sound, to my ears, which give them meaning.”

If am to understand anything Jim writes, I must be intimate and vulnerable. Will I courageously enter and reverence this sacred tear and space… knowing that mitakuye oyasin?

I hope to.


Mitakuye Oyasin is an important book of love, loss, the past, respect and survival as stated on the back cover. It was a wonderful reflection and food for me.  The poems forced me to ponder and take my own walk into the neglected woods in my backyard. After reading Message Received on page 61, I wrote: "Many of the poems are springboards for me to go deeper, beyond and alone, away from the author...but also with him." We are all related. All human beings contribute to the disharmony between each other and the earth.  All human beings are also capable of being the healing balm of Mother Earth. This excellent book has been on my heart and mind for the past three turbulent months. As I read it out loud and slowly, it aided in my healing. I danced to the words as my mood floated skyward and endured the darkened nights of bloodletting battles. As great poetry should do, it brought up more thoughtful questions than answers. Native Americans have a wonderful respect of Mother Earth, but the Siren’s lure of war and the romanticizing of the battle seem to be a major hereditary trait among all of us related.

Reviewed by:  Ron Camarda (2013)

Author's Synopsis

This book is a mix of love, loss, the past, respect and survival. This planet we live on (Mother Earth) is in peril, of this no one should have any doubts. The issue is awareness, and whether we are to be part of the problem or part of the solution. What we do now will determine not simply issues of quality of life, but of life itself. If we continue to poison the air, water and seas, this home of ours will die.

He drove to work sipping coffee from a styrofoam cup, and when he finished he pitched it to the side of the road; it is only one styrofoam cup after all. It is a shame we often think of individual instead of collective concerns. For on that morning he was joined by at least a million others with the same thought.

It is time we all hugged a tree!