Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Daily Email Edition

Get MN Daily NEWS delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday!


Native authors showcase their creative works at the Walker Art Center

At the first Summer Social event, writers in All My Relations Arts’s Native Authors Program read a variety of their pieces.
Image by Photo by Sarah Horner
Rosetta Peters reads to Green Roof Poetry attendees in Cargill Hall at the Walker on June 22, 2023.

The first installation of the 2023 Green Roof Poetry series, curated by All My Relations Arts, took place at the Walker Art Center on June 22.

All My Relations Arts (AMRA) is a nonprofit organization serving as a hub for contemporary Native art. Their Native Authors Program, established in 2020, supports writers of all genres and creates a space for growth, community and support.

Though the event was moved indoors due to heat and poor air quality, it still flourished in a bright and supportive environment.

When AMRA reached out to Art Coulson and asked if he would want to be the 2023 program mentor, he eagerly agreed. Coulson has published over a dozen books, but he still learns from the 12 cohort members just as they learn from him.

“It’s a great mixture of writers — we have poets and creative nonfiction writers and fiction writers — so it’s a really good group to mix it up and talk about genre and form,” Coulson said. 

Cohort members meet each month over Zoom to discuss their current projects, aspirations and roadblocks. Though each writer has their own unique topics and writing style, there is an undeniable benefit in coming together to share the joys (and hardships) of their art.

“Writing is a really solitary process, so it’s nice to be around folks who all have goals and aspirations to get their work out there and have simultaneously committed to uplifting others,” said An Garagiola, a current member of the cohort and graduate student at the University of Minnesota.

Like Garagiola, the other cohort members have busy lives. Nicholas DeShaw, who works as an outreach coordinator for the Department of American Indian Studies at the University, explains how AMRA intertwines with his professional life.

“The main part of my job is to find ways to outreach the department to the wider community, both on campus and off campus,” DeShaw said. “I’m planning to bring some of the [AMRA] artists to campus to speak about their work, and also just to let students know about All My Relations and the cool work they do.”

Curating and reading at Green Roof Poetry was special to the cohort members. After the pandemic made virtual meetings the norm, the group’s first full in-person gathering took place at the Walker. 

“It’s really important for the work that these writers are doing to get out into the broader community,” Coulson said. “Nobody wants to be in an echo chamber — you don’t want to just write for a small group of people.”

Green Roof Poetry attendees gathered in Cargill Hall, a large open space with massive windows that look onto the hill. DJ Austin Owen spun some records as people trickled in. Then, Megan Leafblad of the Walker and AMRA director Angela Two Stars gave introductions that officially got the reading rolling.

Rosetta Peters is a poet and author, but she is also an engaging performer. Her story about family, forgiveness and loss was moving in its out-loud form. Peters would be an excellent audiobook reader.

Coulson shared an excerpt from his middle grade novel called “Chasing Bigfoot,” which follows a young Cherokee boy on a summer roadtrip with his storytelling uncles and cousins. Though geared toward kids, adult attendees seemed more than happy to “put on their 13-year-old ears,” as requested by the author.

Unfortunately, writers Annastacia Cardon and Tashia Hart were unable to make it to the event, but Cardon’s cousin and Two Stars read their work for them. Cardon’s in-progress fantasy novel and Hart’s contemporary romance displayed the diversity of the art being created by AMRA’s authors.

According to Coulson, going out into the community is great because it shows the public all the unique art coming from the Native community.

“They’re going to see that there are Native writers writing about a lot of different topics in a lot of different forms and genres. We’re not some monolith. We’re out there creating like all other authors do,” Coulson said. 

There are two more nights of Green Roof Poetry to catch before the summer is over, with curation by authors Tish Jones on July 13 and Danez Smith on August 3.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Accessibility Toolbar

Comments (0)

All The Minnesota Daily Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *