April 2, 2014

The Blog Tour: Welcome!

What am I working on?

Night Train Red Dust: Poems of the Iron Range: stories of women’s, labor, immigrant and mining on the Iron Range in Minnesota. Forthcoming June 2014 from Wildwood River Press.

Love on the Iron Range: Liz, the main character, grows up on the Iron Range to work in a taconite mine and later, become a musician. This novel is structured with twelve linked stories (daughter, sister, mother) based on Minnesota’s Iron Range and its immigrant, women’s and labor history. Several motifs or images of engagement, rings, wedding dresses, birds, water-life, and naming connect the stories. The narrator’s names are various, and the structure of the narrative is musical.

Recent Collaborations: “Migrations:” A collaboration with Finnish composer Ollie Ortekangas who has been commissioned to create music for Osmo Vanska and the Minnesota Orchestra. We also plan to work together on an opera. A collaboration with media artist and composer Kathy McTavish around her net - art installation “origin of birds.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I am from the Iron Range. It has geologic layers and friction between the natural and industrial. I excavate. There are fractures. Glimpses at objects often open up other perspectives and histories. I work out of certain tensions and silences. I search for structures instilled by my landscape: rivers, forests, and shorelines. I believe there is a connection between women and birds.

Because I grew up in two languages, I am influenced by the rhythms and culture of Finland, and also its modernism. Traditional forms in poetry do not appeal to me. I believe that writing is a physical art, that it must find ways to enter the body. Good art must “break something open.” 

In my fiction, the narrators have odd perceptual experiences. I explore obsessions. I discover that certain motifs or objects appear in different stories and they become visual languages. It happens subconsciously. My poems in Night Train Red Dust are driven. They are fast moving trains or rivers.  Previous books of poems:   The Mother Tongue poems are about growing up on the Iron Range and mother/daughters. Echo & Lightning explores bird migration as a language of women's intersections with the divine.  Cloud Birds explores women walking through violence and a story of immigration.    
Why do I write what I do?

Does any writer get to choose the material? I believe this is given. We can either accept it or reject it. Certain things haunt me: images, phrases, absences, and I write about them. I write about my dreams, I find patterns and I read a lot. 

How does your writing process work?

The process is always changing.  Each project has a new set of rules that I need to discover. It’s my job to follow and learn.  Carl Jung wrote “…a work of art is not transmitted or derived - it is a creative reorganization…. One might almost describe it as a living being that uses man only as a nutrient medium, employing his capacities according to its own laws and shaping itself to the fulfillment of its own creative purpose.” In some ways, this is alarming idea, but I do think that creative work does take a life of its own. It's wise to learn to nurture this plant and make it beautiful.

My process works best if I have more than one project going, because then if one needs time or I if reach an obstacle, then I can work on the other. Somehow they cross-pollinate. Sometimes I will take what I wrote in a poem and try to create a story from it or I will create a character based on favorite authors and add them to my fictions. I experiment and find what works the best. I like to wander through archives, scan microfiche newspaper files, and surf the internet. I fall into rabbit holes. I feel a personal mission to write women’s stories in order to honor and make those stories stronger. I am inspired by many great writers.

Other Blogs and Twitter Accounts
Thank you to Anne Higgins for inviting me into the Writer's Process Blog Tour

Here are some links to interesting writers who should get more attention:
 Kathleen Roberts, poet: https://twitter.com/sirenblaring
I recommend the poets Kirstin Dierking http://kkd.dierking.mobi/home and Diane Jarvi: http://dianejarvi.com
see what Kyle Elden has up on her "Grace Intoxicated" Blog:  http://graceintoxicated.blogspot.com/
and Kim Sisto Robinson: http://myinnerchick.com/

1 comment:

  1. ----Sweet, Sheila,
    I shall tweet and promote your blog on my website because you are one of my greatest mentors & poets. Thank you for mentioning My Inner Chick here. xx Oh, and I shall visit the other writers you suggested.