You have to understand how big of a fanboy I am. When someone asks me for a book recommendation, Power’s story collection, ROOFWALKER, is usually the first I name. It captures perfectly the flux between community/reservation life to an urban Native experience. I have a special love for the book because I taught it in my Native Lit class at the Institute of American Indian Arts. This was back in 2013 when the then Head of Creative Writing, Evelina Zuni Lucero, asked me to adjunct for a semester. When I compiled my list of Native fiction to teach, Mona Susan Power’s book was at the top.

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You have to respect an artist for taking bold steps. That’s what we do. We’re here to capture the harsh realities and interpret those realities for purposes of entertainment, as well as processing tools for deep intellectual thinking. When I cross artists who are willing to truly reach deep inside themselves to find an honest portrayal of the world, I immediately recognize game. These are the real ones. The ones envied by the weak, the unwilling, the carcasses of outdated memories.

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I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. I think it was back in May 2021 when my editor, Kathy Pories, introduced me to the Creative Director of Algonquin Books, Christopher Moisan. We began discussions about who to approach for the cover art. Christopher found an amazing artist in El Paso, Texas and sent us some examples of her work. Both Kathy and I were floored. We passed the images along to my agent, Allie Levick, of Writers House, and she too instantly became enamored by her work. It’s my great pleasure to introduce you to: Christin Apodaca.

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There I am emailing back and forth with my editor, Kathy Pories, of Algonquin Books about the cover to my debut novel, CALLING FOR A BLANKET DANCE. She let’s me know that the Creative Director of Algonquin Books, Christopher Moisan, has found an artist in southwest Texas who does amazing work. He’s especially interested in the specific style of art she employs. I quickly click on the attachment they provided. I’m instantly taken by how her work captivates the mind. It’s almost like a trap. A beautiful and alluring trap that you never want to leave.

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First off, none of us live in the village of the happy people. Secondly, if there was such a story, no one would read nor watch it. Because it’d be a bunch of BS. One of the many pleasures of engaging with art, whether it be film, literature, or the various branches of studio arts, is the freedom we have to think critically about what we consume. When I heard about the series, Reservation Dogs, coming from FX and Hulu, I was excited to watch. I’m always pleased to see Native faces and Native communities in popular culture–especially when it showcases our resilience. We’re a beautiful people with unique experiences to share.

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Metaphorically #DVpit becomes water.  Likewise, I could say Twitter is some type of container–a canteen maybe–something tethered to your belt.  Whether you’ve been slinging a sledge hammer to break rocks or ripping callouses off your hands for grip on a climb, you’re exhausted and you could use a drink.  What you need is opportunity and energy to keep climbing, to keep breaking those rocks.

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Exploring culture through foods is nothing new to the literary world.  Likewise, it’s not new to Native American literature.  While we in the literary field know this to be true there is still very little exploration of the topic in thematic terms.  How can traditional food and customs associated with consumption of those foods enhance the greater theme of a piece?

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“There’s not much culture in this writing,” I’ve heard students say when critiquing student work or reading the novel of a Native author.  Or they’ll say, “It looks like the main character is having an identity crisis,” and it can sound dismissive, but there’s something we have to understand about most Natives:  We move deep into the center of culture and back to the periphery like an ocean in symbiosis with the moon.

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“I gotta keep my Capricorn mind straight,” said the planet of Saturn to the writer writing this post.  Okay, so that first sentence had a weird third person shift–almost like a third person shift to a different third person gear, but the first third person perspective was oddly different from the latter, which was equally bizarre but uniquely awkward.  See what I mean?  I do need to keep this Capricorn mind straight.  Saturn was right.

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So I’m walking through a bookstore in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico and I’m reading blurbs.  I’m not going to blast any artists.  That’s not what I’m about.  We all come from a different set of experiences.  But why are mainstream book publisher publishing the same narrative over and over and over and over?  These blurbs seeming lay out different storylines, but when you look at the macro’s macro you start to see a pattern.

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I was in grad school when a professor asked, “What metaphor would you use to describe how power structures stay intact?”  We were studying Faucoult and had come to his explanation of how individuals give up their power to others, with his example of a moving ship and how everyone does their part to keep the ship moving forward and are in fear of what would happen if the ship stopped moving.  I agree with Faucoult’s analogy.  It makes sense in most situations.  In a modern context though, I’m thinking more along the lines of interstates.

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