Winged Words: American Indian Writers Speak

Winged Words: American Indian Writers Speak

Winged Words: American Indian Writers Speak

Winged Words: American Indian Writers Speak

Synopsis

In Winged Words Laura Coltelli interviews some of America's foremost Indian poets and novelists, including Paula Gunn Allen, Michael Dorris, Louise Erdrich, and others. They candidly discuss the debt to old and the creation of new traditions, the proprieties of age and gender, and the relations between Indian writers and non-Indian readers and critics, and between writers and anthropologists and historians.

Excerpt

Before we can make valid critical interpretations of the work of American Indian writers, we must consider their tradition and historical background. We need to discover, or rediscover, cultural values other than those rooted in Western aesthetics or in individual aesthetic sensibilities. Therefore my first concern in the interviews gathered here was to provide an adequate cultural perspective, a resource for criticism that would be directly connected to creative activity. The aim of most of the questions I put to the writers was, following the challenge of self-definition so common to writers in postcolonial times, to elicit from them their sense of displacement as well as their sense of belonging, their interpretation of Native Americans in their modern homeland.

On the other hand, it was my intention that all the writers should be given--by means of the interview--the opportunity to discuss a wide sweep of critical issues related to their works, from the interrelation among different Native American cultures to the links between past and present at work in the creative process, from the Native American contribution to contemporary fiction and poetry (of which, of course, Indian literature is an intrinsic part) to the possible influence exerted by Anglo-American authors on indigenous writers.

The interview-conversation format seemed to be particularly appropriate to get into the writers' workshops, their personal recollections and ideas, in the most direct way, without any mediation or disguise. And the interview as a form of autobiog-

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