Poetry and art come together to tell contemporary tragedies and highlight Native American issues through the poetry collection of Heid E. Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians) and the accompanying cover art of Andrea Carlson (Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa) in the soon to be released book, Little Big Bully.
The collection set to be released on October 6th by Penguin Publishing Group won Erdrich the 2019 National Poetry Series Open Competition — just one of the many accolades Erdrich has amassed in the field of American Indian Literature. The release of this collection marks Erdrich’s seventh published collection of poetry.
The context of Little Big Bully is set by Carlson’s print “Exit” featured as the cover art for Little Big Bully. “Exit” juxtaposes sacred sights bisected and desecrated by the I-94 highway. The abstracted image fits within the context of Erdrich’s work contrasting historic and contemporary, colonial and traditional, and traumatic and survivance narratives. There is no linear time in this work—we visit past and present and they tell us a story.
This work will interest readers with it’s variety of perspective taking and broad themes from environmental protection, to missing and murdered indigenous women, to dis-enrollment, and everything in between. Themes may be triggering for some—Erdrich provides very intimate moments between herself and the reader. These stories are relevant now. They are finding ways to be told. Erdrich provides a space for us to hear them.
“I never meant to calculate my hurts—or keep score—I can barely remember all that happened by half—until it all adds up—our bodies do that math,” an excerpt from Aftermath.