Minneapolis-based author and enrolled member of the White Earth Nation Marcie Rendon is a delightful person and a gifted, hard working, and prolific writer in many genres. She was generous enough to chat with me about her work and her new debut novel Murder on the Red River from Cinco Puntis Press, which she describes as, “the story about a young Native woman, raised in foster care, who is incredibly resilient and is making her way in the world, her way. In doing so, she helps the county sheriff solve a murder in the Red River Valley of the North.” The Red River Valley has been home to Ojibwe in the region for hundreds of years; European settler-occupiers arrived in 1812. Currently, the valley spans the political border between the nations of Canada and the United States.
When the mind is made to contemplate the paradox of opposite actions happening in the same time and space, one image lies on top of the other and expands the space needed for a single moment of thought. In this way, a carefully contradictory description creates a sense of depth. The fast and the slow happen together and the reader's mind expands to encompass it.
"I've always felt that poetry was the easiest thing for me to write, because I didn't have to write complete sentences. I could write a list poem and it didn't have to rhyme for me. And that was one of the first ways I got into writing—because of poetry."
Bao Phi is the author of Thousand Star Hotel, a collection of poems published by Coffeehouse Press earlier this month. The collection is bold in its language for experiences that oscillate between existence and erasure, and it is moving in its mission to challenge the boundaries of solidarity and to refuse neat conceptions of past, present and future. I was grateful to have the chance to speak with Bao about his newest collection, which uses verse to parse through his childhood in the Philips neighborhood of Minneapolis, the complexities of fatherhood in contemporary America, and the politics of Asian America.
The green-eyed monster will try to tell you that other writers will steal your readers. How wrong this monster is! People who read books will read more than one book, and as we all know, writers are readers too. Never forget that.
Water. Poetry. Space. Place. The sublime. If you aren’t familiar with the writer and cultural worker Moheb Soliman’s poetry and way of looking at the Midwest, you’re missing out! Moheb lives in Minneapolis and works at the Saint Paul-based organization Mizna, which produces an Arab American lit journal and film festival.
When Ai-ming surprises me, I suspect that she surprises the narrator—and thus, that the narrator is not just making her up. Because her actions imply thoughts that I can't see and didn't even expect, I develop a theory of mind in relation to those actions; I infer a consciousness, a decision-making faculty, a will. The surprising act doesn't need to have meaning to the reader for it to signal that there's meaning inside the character. Even if we never find out just what makes her tick, we can see that she's freaking ticking!
Writing: it is a work of love. It may or may not result in riches, but the process in itself should be satisfying. Literally there is blood (oh those paper cuts), sweat, and tears as the words find their way into the public ether. So it’s natural to feel the drive to “give up the day job” when going down this path. This is my gentle nudge that it’s better to ease oneself into such a position vs. backing out at a breakneck speed. There’s a life beyond writing, and both are dependent on the other to ensure success.
The Vegetarian, by Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith), tells of an unexpected vegetarian in South Korea and the destruction of her life and family as she turns into a tree. It's told from the perspectives of Yeong-hye's husband, brother-in-law, and sister.
It also employs some exceptional techniques for portraying strong emotion. In particular, we can learn from the brother-in-law's reaction to Yeong-hye's suicide attempt.