From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Author Spotlight: Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

This story is told as a conversation between people of different generations. How did that inform the choices you made during the story itself and the storytelling narration?

Storytelling is a practice in my culture that is always a conversation between different generations and different beings—it is a conversation that takes place across time and space. I wanted to reflect that very organically in this piece.

The character Auntie narrates the story of the gezhizhwazh in a different voice than she speaks in. How did the creation of her character differ from characters who only speak in a single voice?

Indigenous peoples speak in a variety of voices as a matter of course. When I am in Nishnaabeg space, I speak in a different manner than when I am addressing a group of non-Indigenous Peoples. Fluidity, layered, multiple meanings, and multiple voices and perspectives are encoded into Nishnaabeg storytelling practices. So the idea that the auntie has different voices is, again, something very organic and normal to me.

Oral storytelling is about the relationship between the storyteller and the audience as much as the story itself. Which came first, the idea for the story, or the idea for the characters? Do you think the story would have been the same if the two people having the conversation had been different?

Both occur at the same time for me because they reflect, embody, and amplify each other. Process and context generate meaning, so no, the story is always different.

What do you have coming out in the future that we should look for?

I have a new record called f(l)ight from RPM Records, and I have a new book of short stories and poetry called This Accident of Being Lost coming from House of Anansi Press in the spring.