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Alicia Elliott and Arielle Twist Interview: ‘Indigenous Writing Is Going to Continue to Set the Bar for Literary Excellence’

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Arielle Twist.

It’s been wonderful to see Native writers in North America thriving in the mainstream, receiving recognition for work that challenges traditional literary forms as well as outdated narratives about Indigenous life and history. I can’t keep up with the notoriety my friend, the Cheyenne and Arapaho author Tommy Orange, has received for his book There There, which won a Pen/Hemingway award and was also a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Literature. Ojibwe author David Treuer’s history book The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee made it onto the New York Times bestseller list and has enjoyed rave reviews at the Times and the Washington Post. The list goes on, and there’s a bright future ahead for us, with new books out by Diné poet Jake Skeets (Eyes Bottle Dark With a Mouthful of Flowers, coming from Milkweed this September) and Natalie Diaz (Postcolonial Love Poem, coming from Graywolf in March of 2020).

With all this new writing by, and new attention on, Indigenous authors, I wanted to chat with two Native women who are pursuing groundbreaking work that honors Indigenous life and creates art from our struggles. Haudenosaunee author Alicia Elliott‘s non-fiction book A Mind Spread Out on the Ground has been on the Canadian bestseller list week after week since it appeared in March, and she’s been writing for years about Native issues in Canadian newspapers and magazines. (Her recent editorial in the Washington Post on murdered and missing Indigenous women adds a thoughtful new perspective to the issue.) This year, Arielle Twist, a Nehiyaw, two-spirit trans woman, published Disintegrate/Disassociate, a groundbreaking work of poetry exploring sexuality, identity, and metamorphosis. Twist’s work is powerful in its experiments in form.

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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !