Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers
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.
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About the Author
Elissa Washuta (Cowlitz) is 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.
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
The volume seems to be the work of a master weaver expertly managing the warp and weft of the threads--everything in its place, everything serving its purpose. These vibrant essays and writings acknowledge the wounds of the past but are not confined or defined by them. Rather, the contributors, who include Siku Allooloo, Natanya Ann Pulley, Ernestine Hayes, Chip Livingston, and Michael Wasson, narrate a living, dynamic future.--Choice
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
In gathering contemporary Native nonfiction, this book elucidates the roots of the form-conscious essay and brings together the exciting current work of Native writers. In a sweeping decolonizing gesture, this anthology challenges the nonfiction canon as it's been taught and creates a porous new space in its place.--Essay Daily
Shapes of Native Nonfiction is. . . an accessible, engaging book, both for those who have read widely on the subject and for those seeking a place to begin.--New York Journal of Books
This new collection of essays from established and emerging contemporary Indigenous writers is stunning both in depth and scope. . . . The collection, expertly curated and structured by writer and Cowlitz Indian Tribe member Elissa Washuta (whose incredible essay Apocalypse Logic also appears here) and literary scholar Theresa Warburton, shines in every piece and in its existence as a whole. . . . In these pages, storytelling is a way of developing new Native nonfiction literary possibility.--Literary Hub
Shapes of Native Nonfiction introduces the reader to a unique collection of voices, telling stories that shift from lost to living language, from history to lived experience. These shifts create new shapes for Indigenous writers to inhabit, explore and share. In this anthology, that shaping makes for a powerful read, and an absolutely necessary one.--High Country News