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Little Big Bully

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Paperback
$20.00 US
7.3"W x 9"H x 0.3"D  
On sale Oct 06, 2020 | 112 Pages | 9780143135920
| Grades 9-12 + AP/IB
Winner of the 2022 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry

In a new collection that is "a force of nature" (Amy Gerstler), renowned Native poet Heid E. Erdrich applies her rich inventive voice and fierce wit to the deforming effects of harassment and oppression.


Little Big Bully begins with a question asked of a collective and troubled we - how did we come to this? In answer, this book offers personal myth, American and Native American contexts, and allegories driven by women's resistance to narcissists, stalkers, and harassers. These poems are immediate, personal, political, cultural, even futuristic object lessons. What is truth now? Who are we now? How do we find answers through the smoke of human destructiveness? The past for Indigenous people, ecosystem collapse from near-extinction of bison, and the present epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women underlie these poems. Here, survivors shout back at useless cautionary tales with their own courage and visions of future worlds made well.
Heid E. Erdrich is the author of seven collections of poetry. Her writing has won fellowships and awards from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Bush Foundation, the Loft Literary Center, and First People's Fund, and she has twice won a Minnesota Book Award for poetry. She was also the editor of the 2018 anthology New Poets of Native Nations, which was the recipient of an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation and a Midwest Booksellers Choice Award. Erdrich works as a visual arts curator and collaborator, and as an educator. She teaches in the low-residency MFA creative writing program of Augsburg University and is the 2019 distinguished visiting professor in the liberal arts at the University of Minnesota, Morris. Erdrich grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota, and is Ojibwe enrolled at Turtle Mountain. She lives in Minneapolis. View titles by Heid E. Erdrich

How

Loves How I love you How you How we hang on words How eaten with need How we need to eat How weevils sift the wheat How cold it is How thick with hoarfrost ice slick sleet freeze How wintry the mix How full of angst How gut sick How blue lipped How we drink How we drink a health How we care How easy over as eggs How it all slides How absurd How yet tender we all How wrapped in a thick coat How battered How slender the flesh How we wrap ourselves How many selves we all How I miss you many How I see you How your eyes warm mine How tiny am I inside How enormous my need How you open an old- fashioned satchel How deep it yawns How bleak this need How like winter How it yet catches the light How brilliant the sun dogs parhelion moon dogs paraselene phenomenon optic How fetching your spectacles How my thumbs might fit alongside the slope of your nose How my own glasses slide down my thin bridge How ridiculous the theory of the bridge How inane the bibble babble How we grew to be friends How we grew thumbs How opposable we all How we grew sparks How we blew up a fire How angry How incensed How we resist How we bead up drops How water will not run How we distract How loud the dog snores How loudly How noisy the snow grows How many degrees below How we fret How again How we all came here How did we come How did we How loves How did we come to this

Sovereign Love
When I look upon the beloved the real beloved      not the beloved      of memoirs
made up in revenge      but the active generator of love      the love maker
When I      when      When I look upon you
Beloved     I might avert my gaze      let it stray only to your hands
then up to your throat
It is only in holding your eyes away from mine
that I can stay sovereign in my love
It is only for you      not from you.     It is more than state or nation
This love is itself unto itself       The only name it needs it speaks within me
Call it what you will It will answer

Praise for Little Big Bully:

“The poems [in Little Big Bully] flow across a range of exigent challenges facing Native Americans, particularly women, and Erdrich takes full advantage of the wide format of this book. Many of the pieces are enriched by the author’s dramatic use of extra spaces and broken lines . . . [Erdrich has] remarkable power.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“Erdrich writes across the breadth of the U.S.’s collective history with Indigenous peoples using historical terminology that reaches into the heart of tribal sovereign existence. Yet there is the underlying awareness that Indigenous nations maintain a unique history and have tribal narratives that shape their lives. Her poems are lyrical, visual and, at times, achingly personal.—Jury Citation for the 2022 Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry

“A major collection by a writer who deserves an audience a big as the light she’s throwing off . . . Little Big Bully cycl[es] into private moments, public grief, purposefully erased history and Native politics. [Erdrich] finds ways to still chevron the mind sky with wonder . . . The improvisational torque of Little Big Bully means the book is always moving, into imagined story cycles, love poems, riffs, prose poems so vital it feels like they’ve burst free of punctuation, rather than eschewed it for style.” LitHub

“The Indigenous body, the woman body, the missing body, are all landscape in these powerful, provocative, and limit-breaking poems. In a world where femicide runs rampant, Erdrich’s poems bellow—Don’t look away. Enough. Enough. These poetic worlds carve new futures where healing, love, family, and self-sovereignty exist.” Orion Magazine

“A ceaseless innovator . . . With incisive intelligence and revelatory wordplay, Erdrich examines the mechanisms of abuse, from colonizers who grabbed land to contemporary men who grab women’s bodies.” —(Minneapolis) Star-Tribune
 
Little Big Bully is richly challenging and uniquely rewarding . . . it is remarkable precisely because it posits the act of speaking, of how you learn it is you say, as a liberatory practice: the difficult action that will project us—as well as these poems—into a different and less abusive future together.” Ploughshares

“[Little Big Bully] overlaps personal and political concerns in Ojibwe wordplay. Despite colonial abuse, ecosystemic collapse, and witnessing the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, Erdrich’s wit, heart, and tenacity shines through.” —WBUR.org

“[Erdrich] turns to poetry for resilience, using well-crafted imagery, finely tuned language and sharp humor to navigate both stories of individual abuse and systemic oppression . . . ultimately reminding readers that caring for ourselves gives us the strength to care for others.” High Country News

“[Little Big Bully] is laced with dark humor and shines with incisive wit.” Electric Literature

“[Erdrich] writes with an eye for detail and an attention to how language can both reveal and conceal truth . . . [Little Big Bully] models how to stand, see and be seen, and resist.” Poets & Writers

“Renowned poet Heid E. Erdrich takes on environmental destruction, missing and murdered Indigenous women and more, in her characteristic voice: fierce, witty, personal and political.” Ms. Magazine
 
Little Big Bully holds itself with a steady gaze, feet shoulder width apart. Positioned and ready, it is unflinchingly honest. Traversing a wide landscape—both the personal interior and social exterior—this book is made to confront, without the usual trappings of confrontation. How is that possible? There are ‘conversations’ to address concerns familiar to the Native community, specifically; at other times, poems directly address non-Native readers and public consciousness. Along the way, Erdrich connects the global project of colonialism with the feminine, the woman’s body, the woman’s experience, the ‘bloody burning work’ of her negation and violation. It’s seamless. All this, and still, this book holds in its heart the limitless expanse of love and tenderness, and honestly so. Erdrich writes, ‘This is not my grief […] but a terrible a particular / deep beyond belief / deep enough / to own its depth / to be depth alone.’ Through Erdrich, I have come to understand that it’s not her grief, but ours, shared. Experienced together beyond belief.” —Layli Long Soldier, author of Whereas

“This book broke me open. It electrified me and made my hair stand on end, tingling on my head like a mob of hypersensitive antennae. Whence came, or should I say, whence erupted, this gorgeous mind firing on all cylinders? Who is this poet orchestrating fierce musics of fragmentation and purifying anger? Behind her pitch perfect dark wit, fearless urgency and lively invention is a writer who dares to address our many selves (racial, sexual, spiritual) and their attendant assumptions. With great ardor, she captures bright, fractious, whirling bits of us, truths and contradictions, and channels them into poems that become a force of nature, like winged migration, or river rapids. This book that asks, among other amazing questions, what the most just and loving forms of self-sovereignty might look like, and what it might feel like to try to live them.” —Amy Gerstler, author of Scattered at Sea


Praise for New Poets of Native Nations:

“A wonderful introduction to the diverse landscape of native voices.”
The Washington Post

“This collection is a breathtaking, wide-ranging work of art. . . . It is a modern classic.”
BuzzFeed

“A revelatory anthology.”
BBC Culture

“[New Poets of Native Nations] is distinctly contemporary in its urgency, diversity and vibrancy.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“This book is a wonderful, needed, vital breath of air. . . . New Poets of Native Nations is a wonderfully conceived collection, full of exciting juxtapositions, rich language and a fine equipoise between generosity and restraint. It’s safe to say New Poets of Native Nations is an essential read.”
Paste Magazine

About

Winner of the 2022 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry

In a new collection that is "a force of nature" (Amy Gerstler), renowned Native poet Heid E. Erdrich applies her rich inventive voice and fierce wit to the deforming effects of harassment and oppression.


Little Big Bully begins with a question asked of a collective and troubled we - how did we come to this? In answer, this book offers personal myth, American and Native American contexts, and allegories driven by women's resistance to narcissists, stalkers, and harassers. These poems are immediate, personal, political, cultural, even futuristic object lessons. What is truth now? Who are we now? How do we find answers through the smoke of human destructiveness? The past for Indigenous people, ecosystem collapse from near-extinction of bison, and the present epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women underlie these poems. Here, survivors shout back at useless cautionary tales with their own courage and visions of future worlds made well.

Author

Heid E. Erdrich is the author of seven collections of poetry. Her writing has won fellowships and awards from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Bush Foundation, the Loft Literary Center, and First People's Fund, and she has twice won a Minnesota Book Award for poetry. She was also the editor of the 2018 anthology New Poets of Native Nations, which was the recipient of an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation and a Midwest Booksellers Choice Award. Erdrich works as a visual arts curator and collaborator, and as an educator. She teaches in the low-residency MFA creative writing program of Augsburg University and is the 2019 distinguished visiting professor in the liberal arts at the University of Minnesota, Morris. Erdrich grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota, and is Ojibwe enrolled at Turtle Mountain. She lives in Minneapolis. View titles by Heid E. Erdrich

Excerpt

How

Loves How I love you How you How we hang on words How eaten with need How we need to eat How weevils sift the wheat How cold it is How thick with hoarfrost ice slick sleet freeze How wintry the mix How full of angst How gut sick How blue lipped How we drink How we drink a health How we care How easy over as eggs How it all slides How absurd How yet tender we all How wrapped in a thick coat How battered How slender the flesh How we wrap ourselves How many selves we all How I miss you many How I see you How your eyes warm mine How tiny am I inside How enormous my need How you open an old- fashioned satchel How deep it yawns How bleak this need How like winter How it yet catches the light How brilliant the sun dogs parhelion moon dogs paraselene phenomenon optic How fetching your spectacles How my thumbs might fit alongside the slope of your nose How my own glasses slide down my thin bridge How ridiculous the theory of the bridge How inane the bibble babble How we grew to be friends How we grew thumbs How opposable we all How we grew sparks How we blew up a fire How angry How incensed How we resist How we bead up drops How water will not run How we distract How loud the dog snores How loudly How noisy the snow grows How many degrees below How we fret How again How we all came here How did we come How did we How loves How did we come to this

Sovereign Love
When I look upon the beloved the real beloved      not the beloved      of memoirs
made up in revenge      but the active generator of love      the love maker
When I      when      When I look upon you
Beloved     I might avert my gaze      let it stray only to your hands
then up to your throat
It is only in holding your eyes away from mine
that I can stay sovereign in my love
It is only for you      not from you.     It is more than state or nation
This love is itself unto itself       The only name it needs it speaks within me
Call it what you will It will answer

Praise

Praise for Little Big Bully:

“The poems [in Little Big Bully] flow across a range of exigent challenges facing Native Americans, particularly women, and Erdrich takes full advantage of the wide format of this book. Many of the pieces are enriched by the author’s dramatic use of extra spaces and broken lines . . . [Erdrich has] remarkable power.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“Erdrich writes across the breadth of the U.S.’s collective history with Indigenous peoples using historical terminology that reaches into the heart of tribal sovereign existence. Yet there is the underlying awareness that Indigenous nations maintain a unique history and have tribal narratives that shape their lives. Her poems are lyrical, visual and, at times, achingly personal.—Jury Citation for the 2022 Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry

“A major collection by a writer who deserves an audience a big as the light she’s throwing off . . . Little Big Bully cycl[es] into private moments, public grief, purposefully erased history and Native politics. [Erdrich] finds ways to still chevron the mind sky with wonder . . . The improvisational torque of Little Big Bully means the book is always moving, into imagined story cycles, love poems, riffs, prose poems so vital it feels like they’ve burst free of punctuation, rather than eschewed it for style.” LitHub

“The Indigenous body, the woman body, the missing body, are all landscape in these powerful, provocative, and limit-breaking poems. In a world where femicide runs rampant, Erdrich’s poems bellow—Don’t look away. Enough. Enough. These poetic worlds carve new futures where healing, love, family, and self-sovereignty exist.” Orion Magazine

“A ceaseless innovator . . . With incisive intelligence and revelatory wordplay, Erdrich examines the mechanisms of abuse, from colonizers who grabbed land to contemporary men who grab women’s bodies.” —(Minneapolis) Star-Tribune
 
Little Big Bully is richly challenging and uniquely rewarding . . . it is remarkable precisely because it posits the act of speaking, of how you learn it is you say, as a liberatory practice: the difficult action that will project us—as well as these poems—into a different and less abusive future together.” Ploughshares

“[Little Big Bully] overlaps personal and political concerns in Ojibwe wordplay. Despite colonial abuse, ecosystemic collapse, and witnessing the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, Erdrich’s wit, heart, and tenacity shines through.” —WBUR.org

“[Erdrich] turns to poetry for resilience, using well-crafted imagery, finely tuned language and sharp humor to navigate both stories of individual abuse and systemic oppression . . . ultimately reminding readers that caring for ourselves gives us the strength to care for others.” High Country News

“[Little Big Bully] is laced with dark humor and shines with incisive wit.” Electric Literature

“[Erdrich] writes with an eye for detail and an attention to how language can both reveal and conceal truth . . . [Little Big Bully] models how to stand, see and be seen, and resist.” Poets & Writers

“Renowned poet Heid E. Erdrich takes on environmental destruction, missing and murdered Indigenous women and more, in her characteristic voice: fierce, witty, personal and political.” Ms. Magazine
 
Little Big Bully holds itself with a steady gaze, feet shoulder width apart. Positioned and ready, it is unflinchingly honest. Traversing a wide landscape—both the personal interior and social exterior—this book is made to confront, without the usual trappings of confrontation. How is that possible? There are ‘conversations’ to address concerns familiar to the Native community, specifically; at other times, poems directly address non-Native readers and public consciousness. Along the way, Erdrich connects the global project of colonialism with the feminine, the woman’s body, the woman’s experience, the ‘bloody burning work’ of her negation and violation. It’s seamless. All this, and still, this book holds in its heart the limitless expanse of love and tenderness, and honestly so. Erdrich writes, ‘This is not my grief […] but a terrible a particular / deep beyond belief / deep enough / to own its depth / to be depth alone.’ Through Erdrich, I have come to understand that it’s not her grief, but ours, shared. Experienced together beyond belief.” —Layli Long Soldier, author of Whereas

“This book broke me open. It electrified me and made my hair stand on end, tingling on my head like a mob of hypersensitive antennae. Whence came, or should I say, whence erupted, this gorgeous mind firing on all cylinders? Who is this poet orchestrating fierce musics of fragmentation and purifying anger? Behind her pitch perfect dark wit, fearless urgency and lively invention is a writer who dares to address our many selves (racial, sexual, spiritual) and their attendant assumptions. With great ardor, she captures bright, fractious, whirling bits of us, truths and contradictions, and channels them into poems that become a force of nature, like winged migration, or river rapids. This book that asks, among other amazing questions, what the most just and loving forms of self-sovereignty might look like, and what it might feel like to try to live them.” —Amy Gerstler, author of Scattered at Sea


Praise for New Poets of Native Nations:

“A wonderful introduction to the diverse landscape of native voices.”
The Washington Post

“This collection is a breathtaking, wide-ranging work of art. . . . It is a modern classic.”
BuzzFeed

“A revelatory anthology.”
BBC Culture

“[New Poets of Native Nations] is distinctly contemporary in its urgency, diversity and vibrancy.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“This book is a wonderful, needed, vital breath of air. . . . New Poets of Native Nations is a wonderfully conceived collection, full of exciting juxtapositions, rich language and a fine equipoise between generosity and restraint. It’s safe to say New Poets of Native Nations is an essential read.”
Paste Magazine

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