Native American Literature Symposium: March 12-14, 2015
in Albuquerque, New Mexico
“Projections of Fire: Early Experimental Poetry at the Institute of American Indian Arts”
This presentation offers an introductory historical account of creative writing in poetry at the Institute of American Indian Arts in the early 1960’s. Through an exploration of archival materials and an analysis of selected avant-garde poetries by former IAIA students Donna Whitewing (Sioux/Winnebago) and Soge Track (Taos Pueblo), the paper seeks to remedy the critical silencing of indigenous legacies of experimentalism in avant-garde literary scholarship and Native American literary history. I'll also be sharing photos from the James McGrath Archive and discussing the importance of grounding Native American literary theory in material, historical particulars.
I'm really looking forward to visiting Albquerque again while I'm out there, although I wish I had some time to revisit their awesome metal scene. Another time, perhaps!
As/Us is a space to showcase the creative literary expressions and scholarly work of both emerging and established women writers from around the world. They publish works by underrepresented writers, particularly Indigenous women and women of color. I'm SO excited to read poems with some of my favorite poets from the As/Us family: Tanaya Winder (Southern Ute, Duckwater Shoshone, and Pyramid Lake Paiute Nations) and Tria Andrews (Cherokee).
We'll each read for 15 minutes, and will be followed by a Q&A session/discussion. Looking forward to reading and lunching and catching up with these awesome ladies for sure!
“The Dream Which Proves: Indigenizing Surrealist Methodologies in the Ronnie Burk Archives”
Although I'm Chicana, I haven't been very active in Chican@ literary scholarship, but I'm excited to present some research about a poet who really deserves a lot more attention from scholars and other poets alike. Born in South Texas to a Mexican-Anglo working-class family, Ronnie Burk (1955-2003) was a prolific queer Chicano surrealist poet, activist and collagist. His posthumous poetry collection Sky*Boat was published in 2011, but despite the relevance of Burk’s work—which engages crucial themes like Chicano-indigenous identities, Nahuatl philosophy, the politics of Chicano queerness and AIDS activism, as well as environmental justice— his poetry has received little critical attention by scholars and historians of Chicano literature. In 2010, Dr. Inés Hernández-Ávila, Professor of Native American Studies at the University of California, Davis, approached me with a box containing a variety of documents related to Burk’s life and poetic works, which she had respectfully accumulated over the course of their 30-year friendship. These archives will soon be turned over to UT Austin’s Special Collections holdings, and this paper presentation explores this unique collection of personal letters, handwritten poems, chapbooks and drawings. Like many Chicano poets, Burk’s work is inspired by ancient Nahuatl poetics, particularly the concept of xóchitl in cuícatl, which emphasizes poetry as a path to divine truth. However, Burk also utilizes surrealist methodologies to destabilize those repressive systems embedded in the structure of the English language itself. This presentation considers the theoretical bridges between Nahuatl and surrealist poetics in an effort to prove that Burk’s work embodies Chicano strategies for indigenizing and decolonizing surrealist methodologies in literature. The research showcases an overlooked figure in queer Chicano literary history, creating dialogues across Chicano literature, Native American and avant-garde poetics, while simultaneously honoring the life, work and spirit of a Chicano poet whose legacy spans three decades and remains theoretically relevant today.
So... those are some of my plans for coming months, besides finishing my dissertation, making music, submitting my manuscript to more presses, and trying to get back into yoga because I've seriously been slacking. Looking forward to June!