Emerging BIWOC Poet Spotlight

This monthly series features poems by women of color in the early stages of their publishing careers. It is our intention to create more space at Perugia for the work of poets who are Black, Indigenous, and women of color (BIWOC). We hope using our platform to celebrate this work will expand the readership of the poets we spotlight. This series aligns with Perugia’s mission to support and promote emerging women poets; featured poems will be from poets with no more than one published full-length collection. We’d love to hear from readers with suggestions for poems & poets to feature.

November 2022 Poet: MARIE TOZIER

She Even Used a Ruler

Grandmother left me her prized possessions. 
Kuspuk patterns she used to outfit herself
and her daughters in custom-made tops. 

Her patterns were cut from a windbreaker, 
deep maroon and old. I’ve made the pattern 
pieces my own, traced them onto brown paper. 

She told me how the front piece flatters a woman, 
even if she’s fat. She showed me how to measure 
the hood, how to press the fabric without an iron. 

Her sharp eye drawn to minor flaws, 
she reminded me to be precise. 
Use a ruler to be exact,                                     
                                         like her. 


Open the Dark, Boreal Books, 2020

Poet Bio

Marie Tozier has devoted much of her life to passing down traditional skills and ways of knowing. She can show you how to butcher a seal. She has led classes in sewing, quilting, knitting, and qiviut processing. She leads a poetry workshop for Alaska Pacific University, and her poetry has appeared in Yellow Medicine Review, Cirque, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Catamaran Literary Reader. Subsistence, hardship, celebration—her poems spring from the tundra, from rural life and family life. Reviewer Corinna Cook says that Open the Dark is “full of the rhythms of seasons and family and ancient narratives, but it is also about the open wound of residential school history.” In her poem “They Tried to Teach Me History,” Tozier pushes back against systemic attempts to obliterate all things native, making room for grief and for a world where there is enough for everyone. She lives in Nome, Alaska with her beloved Tok and their children.

To learn more about Marie Tozier, visit the Poetry Foundation and First Alaskans magazine.