Yes, Theyre Real II: Another Collection of Creative Nonfiction
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To me, a more powerful and compelling reading might ask: how does the stark division between literal and figurative language in the American literary tradition speak to the concomitant establishment of other binaries that have been essential to the structure of settlement?
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For instance, how might they be related to the constant reinscription of the gender binary and the normative nuclear family as constitutive of Americanness and of American letters — and, thus of settlement? And how might the refusal to invoke literal and figurative language as a binary if even a productive one show us methods of understanding the purposes of storytelling within a framework that centers Native cosmologies and traditions rather than Anglo or American ones? I guess, in more basic terms: how might we understand that distinction in the Anglo American literary tradition as arising from a need to create a structure of power contra Native traditions, which already existed in this place?
Sign up. Were these kinds of questions forefront in your mind when you put this anthology together?
- The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 1 by Lee Gutkind.
- Os Cadernos Secretos de Sébastian (Portuguese Edition).
- The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 1?
- Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction;
- Yes, They're Real: A Collection of Creative Nonfiction.
- Non cogito, ergo sum. (German Edition).
- Fiction and Nonfiction?
What went into the collection and arrangement of these particular essays? For me, essays are about — concerned with — structure as much as subject. Though, I will say that I think we did talk a bit about not wanting to play into the desire for trauma porn that is so prevalent in mainstream engagement with Native literature. We want to put settler sovereignty into crisis.
These essays might contain these things but they are not only about that. So, I think that at the beginning what we were really concerned with as editors framing the book in a way that allowed these essays to be what the authors wanted them to be. To write an introduction that guided the reader in paying attention to the craft of the essays, how they were shaped, and how they moved. The question of how we could do that was at the forefront of our discussions, so what went into it from the outset was really figuring out how to do this work responsibly — both how to take responsibility ourselves for laying out an interpretive framework and how to provide readers with what they needed to engage with the essays responsibly.
More than solace, I hope that the reader feels radiance — I hope it feels like sunlight on their face, eyes closed, face up, smiling in the heat. All of this emphasis on the lyric essay and non-traditional forms of creative nonfiction notwithstanding, the anthology as a whole does seem — broadly speaking — to move from essays that employ a more traditional narrative mode to more experimental essays. Can you talk about how the sections relate to one another, and the arc of the reader as she moves through the book as a whole? I thought about Ed Carriere in his living room, splitting a cedar root, showing us warp and weft, and pointing out the intricacies of different approaches to construction.
The essays looked like baskets: they were made of materials — memories, strands of research, cultural criticism — deliberately twined, plaited, or coiled, depending on what the essay was meant to do and how it was meant to look. History is felt; colonialism is felt; violence, of course, is felt, and that feeling is knowledge.
I bring this up because I now understand this to be not only how I write, but how I serve as an editor, a collector and arranger. By the time we began working on this book, I had written two of my own, and I had developed a felt theory that was, in limited but significant ways, transferable to collection-building, allowing me the freedom to pay attention to what I felt as a reader and trust that it was knowledge that could be used to arrange a book without logical justification. Each of these writers operates with their own felt theory. As a reader, I experience my own feelings, some of which will likely be shared by other readers.
These essays made me feel sorrow, elation, peace, hope, dread, delight, and all sorts of other things. The emotional experience of the essays gave me a way of creating a sort of arc for the book based on building and releasing tension.
Yes, They're Real: A Complete Collection of Creative Nonfiction - eBook
Warburton: The distinction that Elissa is making between haphazardness and intuition is really important. It really felt completely intuitive, like we could immediately tell when what we were doing felt right and when something felt askew. I think a big part of that is that we came into it with clear ethical and political commitments.
We listened to each other and we listened to the essays. As she and other master storytellers have pointed out, stories give you the tools to understand the story.
Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction
Her essay is a beautiful example. The collection works on that scale — we give you craft essays first because those are the stories that give you the tools to read the book. There was no other choice, that was the right way for it to be. I think the path through the book is more spiral than an arc, which is indicated not just through the invocation of the basket but through the image on the cover as well.
In this sense, we want readers to see the connections between essays in each section and how they are shaped, but also how they call back and forward to other essays in the collection in order to create a strong whole. Where do you hope Shapes of Native Nonfiction enters this conversation? As tactics for resistance? Historical perspective? Solace in a time of trouble?
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All or none of the above? Has there been a time in the past where white people actively collectively hated Andrew Jackson? Again, we had very clear political and ethical commitments from the beginning. So, it was important to us, then, to make clear that Native nonfiction has been an important, unbroken part of the history of Native literatures for centuries and that, following Robert Warrior, if we take this understanding of Native nonfiction, the history of Native literatures extends way further back than people often assume.
This aligns with our commitment to make clear that this is Native land, that Native land should be returned to Native people, and that that relationship to land has existed since time immemorial. Native authors are getting recognized, awarded, and written about in ways that are really exciting and, of course, long overdue. Personally, I view this as the result of the work that Native authors and artists have been doing to cultivate communities so that they can do the work on their own terms, rather than those set by structures and institutions like schools, publishers, MFA programs, prestigious grants, and other funders.
I agree with Theresa, though: something is happening, with attention and access. I think TheResistance, with its short memory and failures in truly understanding pre U. Not now more than ever but now, as ever. I hold these essays close as strands of that forever. Click to share on Twitter Opens in new window Click to share on Facebook Opens in new window Click to share on Pocket Opens in new window Click to share on Instapaper Opens in new window Click to email this to a friend Opens in new window.
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