Louise Erdrich on ‘LaRose,’ and the Psychic Territory of Native Americans | In The Veins @BlueHandBooks #NoDAPL

By Lara Trace Hentz  (poet-writer) (founder of Blue Hand Books)

I am remiss in mentioning I’m in the new poetry anthology IN THE VEINS (released 2-1-2017) and last year I did mention the poetry book TENDING THE FIRE by Chris Felver that is coming out in 2017.   Louise and I are both that book.  NICE!

Louise’s bookstore BIRCHBARK BOOKS (top photo) in Minnesota carries some of our Blue Hand Book titles. I am very grateful to her for this. Supporting me as a small press and publisher helps me publish new Native authors.

click logo to visit them

I founded Blue Hand Books in 2011 to give back to my community, right after I did my memoir One Small Sacrifice.  Since then we have published 18 books, with four volumes in the Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects book series. (TWO WORLDS was the first anthology.)  In the Veins is Volume 4.  A portion of the proceeds from this poetry book edited by Patricia Busbee will be sent to the Standing Rock Water Protectors Camps (#NoDAPL).

Here is one of my poems from IN THE VEINS

…When People of the First Light saw ships and strangers disembark

…When the conqueror ran out of the woods firing loaded guns

…When they loaded some of us onto slave boats in shackles

Then a trickle becomes a river then a flood

…When an Indigenous mother loses her child at gun point

…When her child is punished by a nun, kicked in the neck

…When her child dies in residential school, buried in an unmarked grave

Then a trickle becomes a river then a flood

…When a black sedan enters the rez and children run and hide, afraid

…When a Cheyenne adoptee is a small boy, watching westerns on TV, he is told he is Indian

…When a Navajo adoptee is taken at the hospital and disappears, raised by Mormons

Then a trickle becomes a river, then a flood ….. of tears.

The people who chained, who murdered, who hacked, who raped, who hated their way across North America… they are still here, too.


Read an IN THE VEINS excerpt HERE.  My Ojibwe scholar friend blogger Dr. Carol A. Hand (who I interviewed on this blog) and my dear friend and Unravelling anthology co-editor MariJo Moore and many many other Native American and First Nations poets (some of them famous or soon-to-be) contributed prose and poems for this beautiful new book. If you love poetry, you will love this… LINK to BUY from BHB.

COMING SOON! Blue Hand Books is publishing a brand new novella by Barbara Robidoux, author of Sweetgrass Burning.

Things I Didn’t Know: The Underground Girls of Kabul

“As affecting as the stories of these women are, Nordberg’s conclusion—that women’s rights are essential to ‘building peaceful civilizations’—is the most powerful message of this compelling book. An intelligent and timely exploration into contemporary Afghanistan.” – Kirkus Reviews

“The Underground Girls of Kabul is a groundbreaking feat of reportage, a kaleidoscopic investigation into gender, resistance, and the limits of cross-cultural understanding. Jenny Nordberg is a riveting storyteller and she has an astonishing tale to tell.” –Michelle Goldberg, author of The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World

By Louise Erdrich | Birchbark Books | December 12, 2014

Last August we were sorting through the advanced readers copies that had collected on the bookstore shelves. My daughter Pallas picked up The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg.  I thought I’d seen the last of that book, but Pallas came back for Christmas and put that reading copy in my hands.  She told me to read it, I did, and now I have to say to you.  READ THISThe Underground Girls of Kabul is subtitled: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan.  This book.  If you read it, you will never forget Azita, Mehran, Zahra, Shukria, or Shahed — all women who have been raised as boys in Afghanistan — and then forced to return to being women.  Nordberg explores a cultural practice that astonished me.  It makes sense — to “make” a girl at birth into a boy, for at least part of her life, is to give her a taste of what it is to be human.  To have a will.  Often, it is a magical practice that will supposedly prompt a woman’s body to produce a male.  Most hauntingly, one of these women became a “brother” to a real brother in order to protect him from possible poisoning by a previous wife in a polygamous marriage.  She ate everything and drank everything before her brother.  You will not stop reading this book until you find out what happens to these women — what is happening to them now.

via Things I Didn’t Know.

Jenny Nordberg
Jenny Nordberg
Jenny Nordberg is a New York-based foreign correspondent and a columnist for Swedish national newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

In 2010, she broke the story of “bacha posh” – how girls grow up disguised as boys in gender-segregated Afghanistan. The front page story was published in The New York Times and The International Herald Tribune, and Nordberg’s original research was used for opinion pieces around the world and inspired several works of fiction.

Her latest project, The Underground Girls of Kabul, reveals entirely new and previously unknown aspects of the practice and goes deep into the gender segregation and resistance among women in Afghanistan. Five years in the making, this cross-border investigation is described by Publisher’s Weekly as “one of the most convincing portraits of Afghan culture in print.” She is also developing bachaposh.com as an online resource for girls who have grown up as boys due to segregation.

From School Library Journal

The girls portrayed in this book are not resisting with weapons or spying: they are simply living their lives as boys. The reasons are varied. The family needs help in a store. Women need a “male” relative to walk them on errands. Many girls call their status as a “boy” a type of magic—by showing that the family is ready for a boy, a real male child may arrive. Often, members of the community know the child is really a girl, but accept this gender switch and go along with the ruse. Nordberg focuses her narrative on the adult Azita. Her father educated her, but once she reached her prime childbearing years, she was married off to a rural, illiterate cousin. Somehow, Azita manages to win a government seat in her new district. Western readers will root for Azita to find a way out of this fiercely patriarchal arrangement, but Nordberg is astounding in her ability to elicit sympathy and rage for the women portrayed, while also attempting to explain why more elaborate female resistance may not yet be possible. Teenagers will find a great deal to think about in this well-researched and readable piece of reporting.—Jamie Watson, Baltimore County Public Library, MD

***I will be back posting in a few days…Lara Trace (lots to write about!)

who is on your nightstand?

Cover of "Blackfly Season"
Cover of Blackfly Season

Here’s a list of authors I love:

Matthew Fox – is an American priest (rev. and doctor) who has written 30 books that have sold millions of copies and by the mid 1990s had attracted a “huge and diverse following.” I’ll read anything he’s authored. (Cardinal Ratzinger issued an order forbidding Fox to teach or lecture for a year in the 1980s) – yup he’s controversial! My favorite is The Reinvention of Work. Watching for Matthew Fox’s newest book, coming in October 2012 – Hildegard of Bingen – A Saint for Our Times: Herald of the Divine Feminine, Green Prophet, Church Reformer.

Louise Erdrich – is an author of novels, poetry, and children’s books featuring Native American heritage. She is wCover of "The Plague of Doves: A Novel"idely acclaimed as one of the most significant writers of the second wave of what critic Kenneth Lincoln has called the Native American Renaissance… In April 2009, her novel The Plague of Doves was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore in Minneapolis.

Barbara Kingsolver – is an American novelist, essayist and poet. I love her early work Bean Trees. I prefer all her novels with Native American characters, of course!

Giles Blunt – is a Canadian novelist and screenwriter born in Windsor, Ontario. He is also the author of the John Cardinal novels, set in the small town of Algonquin Bay, in Northern Ontario. Blunt grew up in North Bay, and Algonquin Bay is North Bay very thinly disguised — for example, Blunt retains the names of major streets and the two lakes (Trout Lake and Lake Nipissing) that the town sits between, the physical layout of the two places is the same, and he describes Algonquin Bay as being in the same geographical location as North Bay. I have one to read now, Blackfly Season.  John Cardinal Mystery Series: Crime Machine, By the Time You Read This (The Fields of Grief in the UK), Black Fly Season, The Delicate Storm, Forty Words for Sorrow (my favorite so far). Yep, there are Native Americans in his novels.

John Christian Hopkins – is a Naragansett Indian from Rhode Island and the author of 4 novels, such as LOKI: God of Mischief (Twilight of the Gods) and a poetry chapbook Rhyme or Reason: Narragansett Poetry. (disclaimer: I am his publisher now)

I have a pile of books by my chair and bed to read now (lots of variety, yes). Please leave a comment on your favorite author and who is on your nightstand right now! Who are you reading this summer?