First American Art Magazine No. 22, Spring 2019 - Page 94

ART+LIT Turtle Mountain Ojibwe Poet HEID E. ERDRICH By Tiffany Midge I ’M EXCITED TO SHARE an interview I conducted with poet and editor Heid E. Erdrich. Erdrich has published five poetry collections, and her most recent is Curator of Ephemera at the New Museum for Archaic Media (Michigan State University Press, 2017), which won the 2018 Minnesota Book Award for poetry. Erdrich has received numerous awards, including a Native Arts and Culture Foundation Fellowship, a Loft-McKnight Award, and two Minnesota Book Awards. In 2018, Erdrich edited a Native poetry issue for Poetry Magazine and served as editor of the anthology New Poets of Native Nations (Graywolf Press, 2018). Our interview took place through correspondence by email over the course of four weeks beginning November 1, 2018, the first day of National Native American Heritage Month. TM: One thing I’ve always admired about you is that you have headed projects in innovative ways that involve many moving parts inclusive with regard to community—for instance in your cookbook, Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest. You included food narratives from various Native people of the Upper Midwest throughout the different chapters, which I thought was delightful—like fresh surprises on every other page. What was your impetus for writing and compiling recipes for this book? How has this contributed to the ways in which you approach curating and editing? HE: So glad you enjoyed the food book! It was a bit like curation in that it had a lot of 92 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM moving parts and many people involved, and there were art direction aspects to the work: Aza Abe’s illustrations, photos, document images. I guess it was more like an exhibition than I realized. But my main reason for creating Original Local came from my sense that the local foods movement left out the Indigenous contri- bution and often ignored the presence of Native nations in local regions. We need all kinds of books on Indigenous foods. We need to support activists fighting for our foods, because they are our lifeways as much as powwow or cere- monies. My food book started when the publisher approached me for ideas for cookbooks written by Native authors. They have a successful cookbook series and were keenly aware that they should have started with an Indigenous foods book. I did not know Native foods writers in our region at the time, but gave them a few names and a title, Original Local. After a few months, they asked me to write the book. I laughed! If I were to do the book the way I wanted to, with voices and recipes from 28 Native communities in the Upper Midwest, I would need help from my family and an assistant, and it would be a huge project. It was. above Heid E. Erdrich. Photo: Chris Felver. Image courtesy of the author. opposite Cover of Curator of Ephemera at the New Museum for Archaic Media (Michigan State University Press, 2017). Cover design by Andrea Carlson (Anishinaabe). Writing my dissertation and my graduate research training gave me the skill set to complete the book, and I drew on my experience as a curator as well. Those are the same set of skills I’ve always used as an editor. Collage is my aesthetic. TM: Yes, a collage would describe an anthology! Aside from writing cookbooks, poetry, and curating art installations, you’ve edited a number of collections. I’m thinking of the anthology of Native women’s poetry,