Well, today has opened with an amazing experience. I presented a talk at The Makushin Readings.
Our topic: What is the role of Books as carriers of culture in our globalized, digital world?
To summarize my answer: Books set down the limits of the known, and point at the possible. As well, by what they leave unwritten, they indicate the scope of work to be done. As a person of mixed heritage, belonging to a community (and what a diverse community, a whole continent’s worth of tribes, nations, confederacies) that, for much of my country’s histry, has been excluded from the story or confined to the margins. When Indigenous people began to get our work published, we were (and still are to some extent) pressured to write about our ‘plight,’ about our ‘issues’ about how miserable and less-than we were, and/or how we all long to return to our primitive, pre-industrial ways.
We were definitely not encouraged to own being of mixed heritage as normal.
Nor were we encouraged to compare our stories with similar stories world-wide, and see our history as normal and human, nuanced and personal.
So, as a writer, I have used Books as one of the tools for dismantling that false narrative, that limited scope. When I read and reflect on books from a wide world of writers, I see what connects them – the human and the personal.
Culturally, I’ve been labelled many different ways. Through working and living in different cultures and languages, I’ve gained multiple perspectives. As an artist, I’ve worked professionally in a variety of genres. How best to describe myself now? I am a writer. My work – though it also includes works for performance – is to create books; because even in a globalized, digitized world, a book is a personal, tangible covenant, publicly offered for private enjoyment, to be opened again and again, read and re-read, and perhaps even useful in helping us be human.
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