Shapes of Native Nonfiction
302 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Jun 2019
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Shapes of Native Nonfiction

Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers

University of Washington Press

Just as a basket’s purpose determines its materials, weave, and shape, so too is the purpose of the essay related to its material, weave, and shape. Editors Elissa Washuta and Theresa Warburton ground this anthology of essays by Native writers in the formal art of basket weaving. Using weaving techniques such as coiling and plaiting as organizing themes, the editors have curated an exciting collection of imaginative, world-making lyric essays by twenty-seven contemporary Native writers from tribal nations across Turtle Island into a well-crafted basket.

Shapes of Native Nonfiction features a dynamic combination of established and emerging Native writers, including Stephen Graham Jones, Deborah Miranda, Terese Marie Mailhot, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Eden Robinson, and Kim Tallbear. Their ambitious, creative, and visionary work with genre and form demonstrate the slippery, shape-changing possibilities of Native stories. Considered together, they offer responses to broader questions of materiality, orality, spatiality, and temporality that continue to animate the study and practice of distinct Native literary traditions in North America.

RELATED TOPICS: Indigenous Studies, Literature
The first collection of Native nonfiction organized with the explicit intent of highlighting Native writing as world-making. This book offers us nonfiction that reflects, interrogates, critiques, imagines, prays, screams, and complicates simplistic notions about Native peoples and Native lives. Malea Powell, professor and chair, Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, and faculty in American Indian and Indigenous studies, Michigan State University
Shapes of Native Nonfiction is exciting, fresh, and profound. It provides the space for native nonfiction to be indigenous, without the pressure to "perform" indigeneity. The writing gets to be weird, joyful, wounded, flip, deep, unflinching, terrified, and secure. Expression over cultural expectation. I turn to it and return to it, delighted each time. Tommy Pico, author of Nature Poem and Feed
In this anthology, shape matters. It turns the essay into a resistant form, pushing against the myth of the ‘disappearing Native’ and asserting a new narrative, one that isn’t subject to colonizing. . . . Shapes of Native Nonfiction is full of cognitive and emotional work. It turns the essay into something alive and breathing. Cincinnati Review
The medium is the message in this formally daring anthology of essays from Native writers, organized into basket-weaving themes such as ‘coiling’ and ‘plaiting.’ In these 27 essays by writers hailing from multiple tribal nations, some established and some newcomers, the Native experience is interrogated, elucidated, and celebrated. Esquire
I love essay collections, and those that in some way address the essay form itself are my favorite. . . . There is tremendous variety on offer here, both in terms of subject and tone. Book Riot
It’s not hard to imagine this work as a staple of creative writing course syllabi for years to come. A must for any library. Library Journal
Elissa Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and assistant professor of creative writing at the Ohio State University. Theresa Warburton is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in American studies and English at Brown University and assistant professor of English at Western Washington University.

Introduction: Exquisite Vessels / Elissa Washuta and Theresa Warburton


Contemporary Creative Writing and Ancient Oral Tradition / Ernestine Hayes

Letter to a Just-Starting-Out Indian Writer—and Maybe to Myself / Stephen Graham Jones

Funny, You Don't Look Like (My Preconceived Ideas of) an Essay / Chip Livingston

Nizhoní dóó ‘a’ani’ dóó até’él’í dóó ayoo’o’oni (Beauty & Memory & Abuse & Love) / Bojan Louis

Fairy Tales, Trauma, Writing into Dissociation / Sasha Lapointe


Tuolumne / Deborah A. Miranda

I Know I'll Go / Terese Marie Mailhot

Fear to Forget & Fear to Forgive: Or an Attempt at Writing a Travel Essay / Bojan Louis

Fertility Rites / Tiffany Midge


The Great Elk / Ruby Hansen Murray


Real Romantic / Eden Robinson

The Trickster Surfs the Floods / Natanya Ann Pulley

The Way of Wounds / Natanya and Pulley

To the Man Who Gave Me Cancer / Adrienne Keene

Self-Portrait with Parts Missing and/or Smeared / Michael Wasson

Critical Poly 100s / Kim Tallbear


Pain Scale Treaties / Lara Da'

Caribou People / Siku Allooloo

Part One: Redeeming the English Language (Acquisition) Series / Tiffany Midge 183

Apocalypse Logic / Elissa Washuta

Women in the Fracklands: On Water. Land. Bodies, and Standing Rock / Toni Jensen

Goodbye Once Upon a Time / Byron F. Aspaas

I Am Chopping Ivory or Bone / Joan Naviyuk Kane

Blood Running / Sasha Lapointe

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground / Alicia Elliott


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