A photograph features dark river water out of which grow tall trees that are sparse with leaves.

The Woods Lament For Me

Poet-anthropologist Jason Vasser-Elong revitalizes stories of interwoven lineages of his African-descent ancestors and those who were Native American.
A picture features a sky with a large, slightly orange, billowing cloud at its center that morphs on its left side to look like the side profile of dark-skinned woman’s face. To the left of her is a bright-blue sky with clouds.

Indigenizing What It Means to be Human

SAPIENS offers a curated collection of poems and stories that center Indigenous values, worldviews, and insights, creatively reimagining anthropology and the human experience.
A photograph features numerous light-purple ribbons tied into bows across the surface of a large, green wire fence.

Purple in Cycles

A poet-anthropologist speaks to the labyrinthine experiences of domestic violence—the entrapment, the hope for freedom.
A bouquet of red roses rests on top of a wooden coffin in a church under a stained-glass window.

We All Love Roses

SAPIENS Poet-in-Residence Jason Vasser-Elong reflects on horrific cycles of violence—and highlights injustices that are often papered over.
A person with many small, long, black braids tied up and flowing down their back looks out onto the water.

Maize and Okra

A poet-anthropologist recollects when Muscogee (Creek) people offered his formerly enslaved ancestors refuge, extending the bonds of kinship.
Anti-aircraft missiles leave white contrails in a blue sky above Kyiv, Ukraine.

Hard Water

A poet-anthropologist honors World Poetry Day with a piece that imagines alchemizing the suffering and devastation of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
A person wearing a blue shirt, a red neck scarf, a black mask, and a white cowboy hat stands in front of horses and points to something in the distance. He is next to another person with wavy black hair wearing a brown shirt with fringe.

“Cowboys and Indians”—When Dirt Rocks Are Dynamite

A poet-anthropologist remembers how a popular childhood game reinforced notions of othering and hate—and reflects on how child’s play can set the stage for how we behave as adults.
A young child in a blue and yellow winter jacket and red hat sits on the shoulders of an adult in a black jacket as they walk across a bridge next to cars.

Lessons We Learn

An anthropologist-poet of the African diaspora holds close family lessons on identity, freedom, and relationship in the midst of an anti-Black society.
The view is of rolling hills covered with yellow- and red-leafed trees seen through the front window of a car on the highway.


A poet-anthropologist of the African diaspora gives voice to the power of collective memory and place.
A dilapidated dark, wooden barn stands in a dandelion field surrounded by grass and trees.


A poet-anthropologist of the African diaspora travels from a northern city to his ancestral home in the rural U.S. South—both as a memory and a belonging.