Today we're launching Literatures, Communities, and Learning: Conversations with Indigenous Writers, by Aubrey Jean Hanson, which gathers nine conversations with Indigenous writers about the relationship between Indigenous literatures and learning, and how their writing relates to communities.
The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.
It’s a book of conversations with nine Indigenous writers talking about their work, about why literatures are important for Indigenous communities, and about how writing can have an impact on people’s understandings and interrelationships.
Describe your ideal reader.
Loves to read, is thoughtful about complex politics and histories, gets really into the Canada Reads contest or anything Shelagh Rogers does on CBC radio, is a good listener, always shares what they know with others, and is stepping into more and more community engagement since the TRC’s Calls to Action came out in 2015.
What authors/books is your work in conversation with?
The book itself carries conversations with Tenille Campbell, Warren Cariou, Marilyn Dumont, Daniel Justice, Lee Maracle, Sharron Proulx-Turner, David Robertson, Richard Van Camp, and Katherena Vermette. Beyond the text, this work is also in conversation with Indigenous education and literary scholars like Marie Battiste and Jo-ann Archibald.
What is something interesting you learned about your book/yourself/your subject during the process of creating and publishing your book?
I went into this project knowing that Indigenous writers had a great deal of insight into their work and important reflections to offer on their lives and on the complex contexts in which they write. It was deeply meaningful for me to hear their stories and perspectives, so that writing this book really reinforced that initial perception. Every writer I talked to had incredibly important things to say about the significance of Indigenous literatures, for instance on topics like the revitalization of Indigenous languages, mental health in communities, and the ways in which colonialism continues to influence Indigenous Peoples every day.
Is there anything you hope readers will keep in mind as they read this book?
I hope that readers will allow what they learn from this book to affect how they live their lives, whether it’s on a big scale, like in the classroom, or on a seemingly small scale, like in conversations with friends. Our understandings and actions make a difference for others, and we can try to make that a positive difference.
An important part of any book launch are the thank you’s. Go ahead, and acknowledge someone whose support has been integral to this project.
First and foremost, I am grateful to the authors who agreed to be interviewed and to share their voices through this beautiful book. I’m also incredibly grateful to the team at WLUP for helping me to bring it to publication, to the Banff Centre for the writing retreat where I finished the book, and to my loved ones for carrying me along during this time! I am also grateful for support from research funders, including the Killam Trusts, the Métis Education Foundation, Indspire, and the University of Calgary. My gratitude also goes to the Indigenous literary arts community, who inspire me to do my best work.
What are you reading right now or next?
A lot of people are talking about Jesse Thistle’s new memoir, From the Ashes. It’s a must-read for me as a Métis woman who loves a good memoir!
Literatures, Communities, and Learning: Conversations with Indigenous Writers gathers nine conversations with Indigenous writers about the relationship between Indigenous literatures and learning, and how their writing relates to communities.
Relevant, reflexive, and critical, these conversations explore the pressing topic of Indigenous writings and its importance to the well-being of Indigenous Peoples and to Canadian education. It offers readers a chance to listen to authors’ perspectives in their own words.
This book presents conversations shared with nine Indigenous writers in what is now Canada: Tenille Campbell, Warren Cariou, Marilyn Dumont, Daniel Heath Justice, Lee Maracle, Sharron Proulx-Turner, David Alexander Robertson, Richard Van Camp, and Katherena Vermette. Influenced by generations of colonization, surrounded by discourses of Indigenization, reconciliation, appropriation, and representation, and swept up in the rapid growth of Indigenous publishing and Indigenous literary studies, these writers have thought a great deal about their work.
Each conversation is a nuanced examination of one writer’s concerns, critiques, and craft. In their own ways, these writers are navigating the beautiful challenge of storying their communities within politically charged terrain. This book considers the pedagogical dimensions of stories, serving as an Indigenous literary and education project.
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