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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Monday July 22nd 2024

Anishinaabe Songs for a New Millennium and More From Marcie Rendon

from the series Something I Said…


University of Minnesota Press

Marcie Rendon, author par excellence, is one of those overnight successes who’s been killing it for years. She broke ground in guerilla theatre (Free Fry Bread/Bryant-Lake Bowl), emerging mainstream (SongCatcher/History Theater) and, now, goes national. Soho Press’s Cash Blackbear series (Murder on the Red River, Girl Gone Missing, Sinister Graves) opened the floodgates. Upcoming are Where They Last Saw Her at Penguin Random House in September, Stitches of Tradition (Heartdrum) in October 2024, and the next Cash Blackbear mystery, Broken Fields, Spring 2025 at Soho Press. Meanwhile, Anishinaabe Songs for a New Millennium (University of Minnesota Press), drops in July.
Bao Phi (Different Pond, Thousand Star Hotel) has known her work since they were both fledgling firebrands in Twin Cities lit. He reflects, “As a fellow poet from the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, I could say that this collection is essential to the complicated song that is Minnesota, and that would be true, but also everyone, everywhere, needs to spend time with this book and find their own way to sing along with it or sit quietly and listen deeply to its songs.”
Marcie Rendon chatted by email about what’s going on with her career.

Dwight Hobbes: You going to write an autobiography?
Marcie Rendon: No.

DH: You and Diego Vazquez won the Loft Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship for working with women in the county jail system. What difference have you seen it make for those women?
MR: When I did the writers residency at White Bear Arts Center two of the women, who have since been released, presented on how the writing workshops in the jails helped them, motivated them to think beyond what landed them in jail, and one of them still writes occasionally. We have also hosted readings where other women, now outside of jail, have attended and read their work. They brought their families to hear them read and it was really sweet to see how proud they were of the work they had done inside.

DH: Free Fry Bread skewered the prison system, exposed racism, not to mention sexism. Has Raving Native Productions staged it behind bars?
MR: No, we have not staged it behind bars. It is a large cast and that alone eliminates venues.

DH: Why this book?
MR: I’ve been writing poetry since 12 years old. [There are] poems in numerous anthologies. I’ve tried to have a poetry book published but [until now] never succeeded. I received Franconia Sculpture Garden residency. I dug through every single poem I’ve ever written that I still have a copy of and divided it into four separate books. I pitched Anishinaabe Songs and UofM accepted it. The residency gave me the time and space to really look at my poetry and separate the poems into categories. For years I have wanted to do this Anishinabe Songs one because it is inspired by our traditional songs (although they are in Ojibwe and these are in English) and I wanted to say to Native folks, ‘if we get quiet enough, we can hear the songs the spirits are sending to us.’ Also, I have written songs that are set to western musical notation for theater pieces and choral groups with composer Brent Michael Davids and Ann Milliken, so those ended up included in the book also.

Dwight Hobbes is a long-time Twin Cities journalist and essayist.

Upcoming: Musician/Cultural Educator, Lyz Jaakola, talks with Marcie Rendon. Mark Erickson, Anishinaabe traditional singer, performs. July 16, Friday evening, 7:00 PM at Birchbark Books & Native Arts, 2115 West 21st Street, Minneapolis.

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