James D. Autio with Heid E. Erdrich

James D. Autio and Heid E. Erdrich
James D. Autio and Heid E. Erdrich

This conversation between James D. Autio and Heid E. Erdrich took place from February to November, 2016.

James D. Autio: Boozhoo, Heid. Tell me a bit about your current projects. New writing, art, shows, readings, etc.?

Heid E. Erdrich: Daunting. It scares me to list out everything I do because then my life splays out before me. But, here it is and I must own it: I have final edits on a book of poems due out in 2017, I am editing an anthology, I have poem films screening as part of exhibits and festivals, I have some essays due in a month or so, and I am working with an MFA cohort in the low-res program at Augsburg. All of that is eclipsed by my stint as Interim Director of All My Relations Arts. Whew! Oh, and family, dog, cookbook stuff, too.

James D. Autio with b: william bearhart

James Autio and b: william bearhart
James D. Autio and b: william bearhart

This conversation between James D. Autio and b: william bearhart touches on topics of being Native American poets, the role of self-identity in creative work, childhood experiences with racism, and the importance of getting the work done. Autio suggested various topics as the potential starting point for a conversation, most of which were on somewhat stereotypical “Native” themes. bearhart mentioned that one day he feels one way and then feels something different at another time.

James D. Autio: It’s funny you mention your changing feelings. Right after I wrote my last message, I had some second thoughts about the topics I mentioned. I wondered if I came up with the ideas because they’re the sorts of things one might expect from a conversation between Native American poets. They are things I think about at times, but only as small pieces of a much larger picture: my interests in poetry and art, my drive to create, my political and social beliefs, my questions about spirituality, my desire to give my life more meaning.