What is Turtle Island? Within a number of North American circles, the name is used for the Earth as a living being. Creation stories of certain tribes and language groups of this continent, including the Ojibwa and Haudenosaunce (Iroquois), tell how Turtle came to carry the land on her back, becoming “the Earth, Turtle Island, the Mother” as explained by Gerald Hausman in Turtle Island Alphabet. We find Turtle Island mentioned in passing in articles from Indian Country Today – a weekly national newspaper become media network – and also taken as a name by indigenous affiliations like the Turtle Island Storytellers Network.
On June 4, “Stories about Turtle Island” invites people to gather and celebrate the land and ancestry of North America through poetry, storytelling, and song. The occasion offers an open mic in the spirit of Turtle Island — Earth as Mother, life sustained by the planet, history carried into present and future generations, environment, community, and more. Everybody Reads Bookstore, which offers a wealth of books embodying this spirit, is the place to be from 1pm to 2:30pm.
I am excited to share poetry from and stories about my forthcoming book “Circle…Home” in the company of the book’s illustrator Linda Robinson – also a writer – and musician-biologist Barb Barton from the Native Wild Rice Coalition. The event is free and donations are welcome to support the Central Michigan Wild Rice Camp heading into its third year. Over Labor Day weekend, tribal and nontribal people gather at Tubbs Lake to create tools and harvest wild rice in traditional ways.
“Stories about Turtle Island” is the second activity supported in part by a grant from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. I received a grant this year as an emerging artist toward publishing my collection of poetry and prose “Circle…Home,” words rooted in mid-Michigan with branches across North America and the Atlantic. This event is my last before taking leave for the summer to Belgium, and I hope to see you there! The book can be pre-ordered at a discount rate of $16 (including tax). Advance support is most welcome in this collaborative endeavor, with the book’s printing donated by the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing. “Circle…Home” will be released at Everybody Reads Bookstore on September 10, 2011, so save the date!