NATIVE AMERICAN WRITING & GOODREADS
by Norman Warwick
Goodreads offered ten titles with which readers might choose to commemorate November as Native American Month. The whole list sounds fascinating, and we will get round to reading them all. There are are a coule, though, that we are keen to read and reviews.
Our Sidetracks And Detours office is particularly interested in the writing of Poet Warrior Joy Harjo, and especially in her show We Were There When Jazz Was invented. Our occasional contributor Steve Bewick is particularly interested the parallels and diversions between poetry and jazz and I´m pretty sure archivist an historian, Gary Heywood Everett, who works with Steve on the Hot Biscuita jazz programme would find much to enjoy in Harjo´s work.
I am particularly looking forward to reading the an encyclpeadic work edited by Cynthis Leitich Smith. The volume is designed for school classrooms, and having worked as a peripatetic creative writing facilitator in both primary and secondary education in the UK and The Canary islands for almost thirty years, I keep a close eye on the literary and creative content on the literature curricula.
Author Louise Erdrich, winner of a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, presents a story of magical realism crossed with old-fashioned grim realism. As Minneapolis deals with a year of tragedy and reckoning, ex-con Tookie tries to solve the mysterious haunting of her small independent bookstore. Sometimes ghosts aren’t just metaphors.
THE DOG FLOWERS by Danielle Geller
This powerful memoir takes an interesting approach to the format, mixing traditional narrative with primary archival documents. When her mom dies from alcoholism, Geller returns to the Navajo reservation, where she uses her training as a librarian and archivist to sort through a suitcase full of documents, diaries, and photographs.
Danielle Geller received her MFA in creative writing for nonfiction at the University of Arizona, and a Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award in 2016. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, The New Yorker, Brevity, and Arizona Highways,and has been anthologized in This Is The Place. She lives with her husband and two cats in British Columbia, where she teaches creative writing at the University of Victoria. She is also a faculty mentor for the low-residency MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is a member of the Navajo Nation: born to the Tsi’naajinii, born for the white man.
Another engaging memoir with an innovative approach to the form, Poet Warrior is the second memoir from current U.S. poet laureate Joy Harjo, the first Native American to hold the honour. Harjo’s strategy is to mix prose, poetry, and song in extended remembrances that reflect on her trailblazing life and career.
Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a member of the Mvskoke Nation. She has released four award-winning CD’s of original music and won a Native American Music Award (NAMMY) for Best Female Artist of the Year. She performs nationally and internationally solo and with her band, The Arrow Dynamics. She has appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, in venues in every major U.S. city and internationally. Most recently she performed We Were There When Jazz Was Invented at the Chan Centre at UBC in Vancouver, BC, and appeared at the San Miguel Writer’s Conference in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Her one-woman show, Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light, which features guitarist Larry Mitchell premiered in Los Angeles in 2009, with recent performances at Joe’s Pub in New York City, LaJolla Playhouse as part of the Native Voices at the Autry, and the University of British Columbia. Her seven books of poetry include such well-known titles as How We Became Human- New and Selected Poems and She Had Some Horses. Her awards include the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. She was awarded 2011 Artist of the Year from the Mvskoke Women’s Leadership Initiative, and a Rasmuson US Artists Fellowship. She is a founding board member and treasurer of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. Harjo writes a column, Comings And Goings, for her tribal newspaper, the Muscogee Nation News. Soul Talk, Song Language, Conversations with Joy Harjo was recently released from Wesleyan University Press. Crazy Brave, a memoir is her newest publication from W.W. Norton, and a new album of music is being produced by the drummer/producer Barrett Martin. She is at work on a new shows: We Were There When Jazz Was Invented, a musical story that proves southeastern indigenous tribes were part of the origins of American music. She lives in the Mvskoke Nation of Oklahoma.
Sarah Hope, a regular reviewer at Goodreads has said of Joy Harjo’s Poet Warrior: A Memoir
´This a truly remarkable book—partly because Harjo has led a remarkable life, but also because of the beautiful, almost incantatory prose Harjo uses. Harjo doesn’t just relate events in her life, she pulls us into a world view that makes us rethink our relationship to what we see around us—that makes us rethink the very world we see around us.
Take your time with this title. Move slowly, pick it up, put it down. Nothing here should be rushed. I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.
Author Angeline Boulley’s debut novel is a fast-paced YA thriller set in and around a troubled Ojibwe reservation. College student Daunis Fontaine returns home to care for her mother, when she witnesses a shocking murder. Reluctantly agreeing to go undercover, she uses her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine to track down the killer.
THE REMOVED by Brandon Hobson
Inspired by Cherokee folklore, The Removed is a stirring family drama with sustained echoes of the supernatural. The Echota family, reuniting for their annual bonfire, finds that the membrane between the real world and the spirit world is growing thin. Brandon Hobson’s acclaimed novel is a meditation on family, trauma, and the enduring power of stories.
THE SEED KEEPER by Diane Wilson
Spanning several generations of women in one Dakota clan, The Seed Keeper explores themes of family and ecology—and the immortal strength of spring’s renewal. Author Diane Wilson charts the lives of four powerful women as they navigate the damaged legacy of their ancestors and their land.
A SNAKE FALLS TO EARTH by Darcie Little Badger
Darcie Little Badger (Elatsoe) specializes in a kind of traditional Lipan Apache storytelling structure, stitching in threads of magical realism and fantasy. Her YA novel A Snake Falls to Earth tells of the relationship between a lonesome Lipan girl and a “cottonmouth kid” from the land of spirits and monsters
THE HATAK WITCHES By Devon A. Mihesuah
If you like your mysteries deeply spooky, heads up: When a museum security guard is mysteriously killed, Detective Monique Blue Hawk discovers that a deformed skeleton is also missing from the museum. She soon learns of a Crow legend concerning a matriarch witch and a group of shapeshifting Choctaw entities bent on returning to our world.
This beautifully illustrated collection gathers the stories of 50 Indigenous scientists, athletes, artists, activists, and leaders in a new kind of American history book. The collection also includes some basic primers on important Indigenous issues, including the history of colonialism and current debates around land and water rights.
Native American Writer, Activist and Blogger Dr. Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation) is a Native scholar, writer, blogger, and activist, and is passionate about reframing how the world sees contemporary Native cultures.
Edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith
It’s a cliché because it’s true: Children are our most valuable natural resource, and we need to nurture them in every way. This generous collection of Native American stories and folklore is ostensibly aimed at middle-school kids, but it’s good, nutritious stuff for interested readers of any age.
Cynthia Leitich Smith (right) is a New York Times best-selling author of fiction for children and young adults. A member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, she writes fiction for children centered on the lives of modern-day Native Americans. These books are taught widely by teachers in elementary, middle school, high school, and college classrooms. In addition, Smith writes fanciful, humorous picture books and gothic fantasies for ages 14-up. Regarded as an expert in children’s-YA literature by the press, she also hosts a website for Children’s Literature Resources. Smith is a current faculty member at Vermont College of Fine Arts, teaching in the Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA program. She was named the inaugural Katherine Paterson Chair in 2020. In addition, she was the winner of the 2021 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature.
The primary sources for this article have been a press release and on line text by Goodreads. Their informed comments on literature of all kinds can be found at https://www.goodreads.com where you can also sing up for the regular newletters
In our occasional re-postings Sidetracks And Detours are confident that we are not only sharing with our readers excellent articles written by experts but are also pointing to informed and informative sites readers will re-visit time and again. Of course, we feel sure our readers will also return to our daily not-for-profit blog knowing that we seek to provide core original material whilst sometimes spotlighting the best pieces from elsewhere, as we engage with genres and practitioners along all the sidetracks & detours we take.
This article was collated by Norman Warwick, (right) a weekly columnist with Lanzarote Information and owner and editor of this daily blog at Sidetracks And Detours.
Norman has also been a long serving broadcaster, co-presenting the weekly all across the arts programme on Crescent Community Radio for many years with Steve, and his own show on Sherwood Community Tadio. He has been a regular guest on BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio 4.
As a published author and poet he was a founder member of Lendanear Music, with Colin Lever and Just Poets with Pam McKee, Touchstones Creative Writing Group (where he was creative writing facilitator for a number of years) with Val Chadwick and all across the arts with Robin Parker.
From Monday to Friday, you will find a daily post here at Sidetracks And Detours and, should you be looking for good reading over the weekend, you can visit our massive but easy to navigate archives of over 500 articles.
The purpose of this daily not-for-profit blog is to deliver news, previews, interviews and reviews from all across the arts to die-hard fans and non- traditional audiences around the world. We are therefore always delighted to receive your own articles here at Sidetracks And Detours. So if you have a favourite artist, event, or venue that you would like to tell us more about just drop a Word document attachment to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a couple of appropriate photographs in a zip folder if you wish. Being a not-for-profit organisation we unfortunately cannot pay you but we will always fully attribute any pieces we publish. You therefore might also. like to include a brief autobiography and photograph of yourself in your submission. We look forward to hearing from you.
Sidetracks And Detours is based on Lanzarote but has correspondents from around the world as it seeks to become part of the synergy of organisations supporting the arts in all of their forms. We are grateful, therefore. to our regular correspondent Michael Higgins and occasional reporter Steve Bewick and the sharing of information by such reliable sources such as
correspondents Michael Higgins
Gary Heywood Everett
Hot Biscuits Jazz Radio www.fc-radio.co.uk
Jazz In Reading https://www.jazzinreading.com
Ribble Valley Jazz & Blues https://rvjazzandblues.co.uk
Rob Adams Music That´s Going Places
Lanzarote Information https://lanzaroteinformation.co.uk
all across the arts www.allacrossthearts.co.uk
Rochdale Music Society rochdalemusicsociety.org
Agenda Cultura Lanzarote
Larry Yaskiel – writer
The Lanzarote Art Gallery https://lanzaroteartgallery.com
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