“We Are the Stories.” Linda LeGarde Grover on Community Storytelling in the Ojibwe Tradition
In Conversation with Alex Higley and Lindsay Hunter on I'm a Writer But
Welcome to I’m a Writer But, where two writers-and talk to other writers-and about their work, their lives, their other work, the stuff that takes up any free time they have, all the stuff they’re not able to get to, and the ways in which any of us get anything done. Plus: book recommendations, bad jokes, okay jokes, despair, joy, and anything else we’ve got going on that week. Hosted by Lindsay Hunter and Alex Higley.
In this episode, Alex and Lindsay talk with Linda LeGarde Grover (Gichigami Hearts: Stories and Histories from Misaabekong) about making a book that is fiction, memoir, myth, truth, and poetry; the many wonders of Duluth and Lake Superior; the “ghost presence” in her book; showing a sense of time and change in her work; and more!
From the episode:
Linda LeGarde Grover: I think “organic” is a good description of this. I had various things that I had written and was holding onto and wondering if a time might be right that they would fit together. And then, at some point in recent years, it occurred to me that our relationship with the old stories is something that is so contemporary—we think of the stories, and the stories are a way of recounting history and explaining the good way to live, and of course the stories are spiritual and religious stories—and so how do they combine, how do they intersect with how we live today?
And then it occurred to me that we are reliving those stories in our own lives every day. And it’s always been this way. When people say, oh, the old stories, they’re alive—they’re not only alive, they are us, and we are the stories.
Linda LeGarde Grover is professor of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth and a member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe. Her novel The Road Back to Sweetgrass (Minnesota, 2014) received the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers Fiction Award as well as the Native Writers Circle of the Americas First Book Award. The Dance Boots, a book of stories, received the Flannery O’Connor Award and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, and her poetry collection The Sky Watched: Poems of Ojibwe Lives received the Red Mountain Press Editor’s Award and the 2017 Northeastern Minnesota Book Award for Poetry. Onigamiising: Seasons of an Ojibwe Year (Minnesota, 2017) won the 2018 Minnesota Book Award for Memoir and Creative Nonfiction and the Northeastern Minnesota Book Award.