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This beautiful and devastating book—part tribal history, part lyric and intimate memoir—should be required reading for anyone seeking to learn about California Indian history, past and present. Deborah A. Miranda tells stories of her Ohlone Costanoan Esselen family as well as the experience of California Indians as a whole through oral histories, newspaper clippings, anthropological recordings, personal reflections, and poems. The result is a work of literary art that is wise, angry, and playful all at once, a compilation that will break your heart and teach you to see the world anew. 

Winner of the PEN Oakland–Josephine Miles Literary Award

Winner of the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award, Gold Medal for Autobiography/Memoir

Shortlisted for the 2014 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

"Altar for Broken Things is a lyrical pilgrimage for devotion and integrity in which the land itself is the site of worship. Miranda’s poetry takes an encompassing view of the ways that perception and intent intersect with faith. An altar, the reader is reminded, takes its name from elevation. As these poems guide the reader, it is made clear that altars abound. The currents of these poems move in the territory of the sublime, but the abiding faith and beauty of the speaker’s telling is an unimpeachable guide." – Laura Da’

. . . the speakers of her poems do not live in the confines of the past nor are they ghosts. Instead, they reach to the past only to move forward. In doing so, they weave together the concerns of indigenous communities with intimate, often painful desires and disappointments from within the family circle. These poetic narratives are not tales of misery—elegies for decimated people and cultures—but expressions of survivance . . . “Rosary” re-envisions California missions not as static centers of pain and slavery but, rather, points on a continuous path of discovery and empowerment. “San Juan Capistrano, San Fernando Rey de España, Santa Barbara. / Let me pass by the adobe missions, the ridiculously renovated, the / melting rubble, with tender thoughts for the souls of my ancestors. / Like clay and stone, we transform: that is the string of miracles I follow” (61). This is not hope as much as it is an expression of certainty. – Loretta McCormick

Winner of The Pathfinder Award from the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers

"According to Miranda’s small gray Zen book, “everyone loses everything.” “Nonsense,” La Llorona howls back, “there’s always something left to lose.” La Llorona, for whom Miranda named her book of poems and prose, appears and disappears throughout it. Along life’s road, Miranda encounters racism, domestic violence, rape, abandonment, addiction, and ultimately, the loves of her life: her children and another Indian woman. She writes with clarity and grace; and her poems are achingly beautiful. They are, as acclaimed poet Sandra Cisneros, says, 'wondrous stuff.'" - Beverly Slapin

Nominated for a Lambda Literary Award

"Miranda is . . . a cherisher of maps. Her stories unfold, her words draw boundaries and seek internal and historical terrain. Miranda's poetry examines and searches for lost and discovered identities. She leads me along her particular trails and paths. Some gentle as mist, others wrought with the violence of hailstorms, and when I reach the clearings I am quietly amazed, stunned at times, by the landscapes she calls home." – Tiffany Midge

Winner of The Diane Decorah Memorial First Book Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas