CMarie Fuhrman: A Contemporary Native Poet

Graphic courtesy of Aquinas College Contemporary Writers Series

Story by Reporter Anastasia Benstead

Every morning, CMarie Fuhrman, a brilliant native poet and professor, wakes up and sets a fifteen minute timer. No matter what, she uses this time to draft a poem. This gets her into the correct headspace to journal which she proceeds to do for another fifteen minutes immediately after. She finds this adds a level of lyricism to her craft. She does all of this after she greets the Earth. Furhman says that much like a cat responds lovingly to its person calling their name, the Earth’s spirits are brightened as well as those of the beings that walk her. 

Self-described as an “eco-poet”, she draws most of her inspiration from nature. In part, this is due to her native heritage. Additionally, it is due to her picturesque cabin in dense Idaho woods. She keeps herself surrounded by a fabulous and diverse ecosystem. Deer, bears, pumas, foxes, many varieties of birds, and hundreds of other species pay her visits in her yard and some even pause for a bite to eat from her numerous bird feeders. She has two dogs whom she loves deeply which add a touch of wildlife indoors as well. 

Fuhrman is the Associate Program Director of Creative Writing at Western Colorado University. She works mainly with small cohorts of students remotely who meet one week in July for in-person activities. She admires and encourages the benefits of this kind of programming because it “fits into everyday lives”. She cares immensely about her students and has worked hard to foster strong relationships with them. 

Aquinas College was blessed with Fuhrman’s presence for the final installment of the 2022-23 Contemporary Writers Series. She hosted a student creative writing workshop focusing on resiliency through poetry during the 11-12 noontime student event, as well as formally presenting at the 6pm evening session open to students, alumni, staff, faculty, and the public. She is one of the editors of Cascadia Field Guide and the author of a collection of poems entitled Camped Beneath the Dam. One of her goals is to promote native voices in her work. Her most recent work Cascadia Field Guide is not a field guide like any other. Much like a standard field guide, it is divided into chapters based on ecosystems with smaller sections going into detail about the being (she intentionally does not use species to “refer to our neighbors…being feels vital and full of energy). Each section is composed of three parts: artwork of the being, a description of the being (though one more focused on their identity and role within the ecosystem rather than identifying marks), and a poem. All of these components are created by native people. Through their sharing of wisdom and art, a reader can create a vivid mental picture of the serenity that is the region of Cascadia; stretching from Alaska down to the northern Pacific coast, and out to the continental divide of Idaho and Montana. 

Furhman began the evening presentation with her own land acknowledgement. One that was written for native people to express their mistreatment and the way that they as a population are discussed as relics of the past. It was provocative and beautiful. She then proceeded to tell stories about her home at the South Fork of the Salmon River in mountainous Idaho through several works of prose, and an epistle. 

Cascadia and Native Voices (a collection of poetry featuring the work of CMarie Fuhrman) were available for purchase after the evening presentation and were able to be signed by the author. Her newest work of poetry should be published and out for purchase in early summer.