“The roots of our indigenous knowledge base run deep through the heart of this territory. We have stories to tell. They just might help us all survive.” –Susan Power (Iháŋkthuŋwaŋna Dakota)
Susan Power is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and a native Chicagoan. She is a graduate of Harvard College, Harvard Law School and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She is also the celebrated author of three books, The Grass Dancer (a novel), Roofwalker (a story collection) and the new novel, Sacred Wilderness.
Power will bring her words and wisdom from St. Paul, Minn., to the High Plains Cultural Center in Killdeer Sept. 17-18 as part of “Native Americans & the Media Arts: Bridging Cultures & Creative Journeys.”
She will join four other Native American thought leaders as part of the groundbreaking educational program presented by the literary nonprofit Dunn County Writers.
On Sept. 17, Power will participate alongside Juan Carlos Peinado and Dr. Twyla Baker-Demaray (both Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara) on a panel addressing the roles of Native Americans in books, film, scholarship and journalism. The panel will be moderated by Pulitzer Prize Finalist and UND Professor of Journalism Mark Trahant (Shoshone Bannock).
Later, she will read from new and published work, including her first foray into literary horror.
“The working title is Harvard Indian Séance,” she said of the work-in-progress. “I grew up hearing true ghost stories from family members and elders in the Indian community, and always loved to be chilled by these sorts of tales. I’m calling upon those memories to bring this spooky novel to life.”
Audience members can also look forward to excerpts from her earlier books. A theme through all of them is what she calls “an opening to varieties of the human experience,” found in a cast of characters from very diverse backgrounds. She attributes this to her own ancestral experience.
“My family includes Native American, white American and African members, so it’s understandable that I’d be open to all voices,” she said.
On September 18, Power will lead a three-hour writing workshop for 20 participants. The author has taught classes and workshops at several universities and considers herself an “intuitive teacher.”
“I enjoy helping others open to their imagination, open to other voices and experiences,” she said.
Participants will be introduced to writing exercises that stimulate the imagination and generate work. “Sometimes these cues create breakthroughs on projects we’re already working on,” she said. “Sometimes new characters and ideas show up to inspire a new piece.”
Creative nonfiction and memoir can pose unique roadblocks for the writer. Power has some tricks for getting over, under or around them. “We can get stuck in our memories, our perspective on what happened,” she said. “I try to widen the focus of the lens to bring in a different view.”
The workshop welcomes writers of all experience levels and will focus on prose such as fiction, creative nonfiction and memoir. At press time, five spots remained open.